Pork Tenderloin with Guava Chutney
I cry every time I watch Babe, but a little less if I’ve just eaten good pork. A Peña favorite is bone-in, thinly sliced pork chops with caramelized red onions and white rice, but every few months we’ll upgrade to a tenderloin. Pork, generally a husky meat, is at its most elegant when presented in medium-rare medallions, and this cut’s relatively little saltiness makes it the perfect vehicle for a brazen topper.
1 pork tenderloin (you can buy an individually wrapped half, which feeds 2 people generously, or a split whole tenderloin for up to 5)
1/4 C guava paste (Goya is the easiest to find)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dried cilantro (1 tsp for a half tenderloin, 2 tsp for a whole)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
Set the pork on a rack over a roasting pan. Drizzle the tenderloin with 2 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and cilantro onto the top and rub it in with your fingers. You don’t need to do the bottom, as the meat will be broiled, so when you flip it over in the oven, the bottom will be moist. Leave the rubbed pork at room temperature while you prepare the chutney.
Start your broiler. Position the top rack so that there will be two inches between the top of the pork and the flame. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat in a medium pan. Cook the onion until it softens, turning frequently, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, add 2 tbsp more olive oil, then add the guava paste to the pan, and break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. It will take about 10 minutes for the paste to melt into a thick, syrupy liquid. Once it does, add salt, pepper and 1 tsp crushed red pepper. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it sit at room temperature while you cook the pork. Waiting until you’ve finished cooking the chutney to start the pork will give the former just the right amount of time to set, both in terms of flavor and texture.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re doing the half-loin. Stick the pork in the oven, so that the flame bar spans the length of the tenderloin (if using a whole, it will take about twice as long to cook, and the halves should be positioned 2″ apart, parallel to each other, equidistant from the flame). Broil the pork for about 10 minutes, until the top begins to brown, then pull the rack out and use tongs to turn the meat over. Give it another 10 minutes to finish cooking. The meat should be completely cooked, just barely rosy in the center. Take it out of the oven and let it stand for five minutes so it reabsorbs some of the juice. The surface will have crisped, so use a super sharp knife to slice the tenderloin at a slight angle into 1/2″ rounds.
Transfer the chutney to a serving dish, skimming off any oil that has accumulated at the surface. This should be an on-the-side option, considering the widespread disdain for public onion consumption. Since you’re serving a starch as well, five end or four center medallions are sufficient for the average dinner guest. Fan them out on the plates if you don’t mind appearing fancy – I certainly don’t. I usually serve this with crispy tinned potatoes; pan-fry drained canned sliced potatoes in HOT vegetable oil with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley, then drain on paper towels before plating.