Pork Tenderloin with Burnt Brown Sugar, Orange Confit, and Thyme: French Chefs never burn anything, they caramelize!

I wanted to get this in ASAP since I believe MM cooked this over the weekend too, and I want to beat her to the punch.  The recipe is from Peter Kaminski by way of Ruhlman’s blog.  The witty French chef comment is from me by way of Chef Tory.  This is going to turn out looking burned, but trust me, that’s the good stuff.  I will also say that making the orange confit is not the easiest thing in the world, or rather getting all the pith (and I mean ALL of it) off the oranges is a pain in the ass.  I also took out some insurance and finished the pork in a 350 degree oven for about 10 mins.  And cooking it outside is the way to go, ’cause it smokes like a mofo.

Pork Tenderloin with Burnt Brown Sugar, Orange Confit, and Thyme
Courtesy of Peter Kaminsky, and Michael Ruhlman

2 boneless pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
6 pieces orange confit, about 2 inches each
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon coarse salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil from the orange confit

Lay the pork tenderloins on a work surface. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Tear the orange confit into 1/2 inch pieces and distribute over the top surface of the meat. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and half the salt. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and pat it down firmly with your hand. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil from the orange confit.

Preheat the chapa or a large square cast iron griddle over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles.

Using a wide spatula, lift the pork tenderloins one by one and invert them sugar side down onto the griddle. Do not move them for 5 minutes. If the sugar begins to smell unpleasantly burned, adjust the heat by moving the griddle and lowering the flame. When the sugar side is well browned, turn the tenderloins. Cook on all sides for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until done to taste. The internal temperature should be 135 degrees for a rosy pink. Remove the meat to a carving board and allow to rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing.

Orange Confit

4 oranges
3 bay leaves
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup white wine
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Cut the oranges in half. Squeeze the juice and reserve for another use.

Place the squeezed orange halves in a 3 quart saucepan. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, 3 tablespoons olive oil, white wine and water to cover. Add salt and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the orange peel is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the liquid.

When cool enough to handle, drain the oranges. Tear the peel into rough strips about 1 inch wide. Place a strip of orange peel skin side down on a work surface and, using a very sharp paring knife, scrape away every bit of the white pith.

Place the strips of orange zest in a bowl and cover completely with extra virgin olive oil. This will keep, covered tightly in the refrigerator, for at least a week.

I kept my orange confit in a Gladware container, because Padma told me to.  This is what mine turned out like, with wilted spinach (again) and a Devil’s Tower of Mashed Potatoes with Bleu Cheese and Garlic Scapes.

Word count before Chef Tory reference:  48.

~Citizen Chef

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