I love pork tenderloin, and Jérôme loves it even more, meaning we eat a lot of it. It never seems to get old though because it’s so versatile. Once I went for a taste of home, pounding it out into fillets and making breaded tenderloin sandwiches, often enough I make it braised in white wine with leeks and a lemon cream sauce, but my favorite recipes are always those where it’s seared and just cooked in the oven, usually with some sort of marinade, glaze or accompanying sauce. I love it with a balsamic reduction and recently also made it with a fruity chutney. This time inspiration came from Bon Appétit.
I have to admit, because tenderloin is such a norm around here, the cabbage is what drew me to this recipe. I throw cabbage into soups once in awhile, but usually save it to be eaten raw and shredded in a coleslaw-type salad. When I saw the amazing indigo color that the red cabbage took on after a bit of cooking time, a color reminiscent of these beautiful mashed vitelotte potatoes that I made, I knew I had to try it.
It just so happened that I had some Coke in my fridge at the time and that I was getting bored with always braising things in beer. I’d been wanting to cook with Coke for awhile now, and figured a nice, sweet tenderloin would accompany the slightly bitter cabbage perfectly. I was right. The pork was tender and fragrant and perfectly glazed while the cabbage brought just the right amount of balance.
Coca cola-marinated pork tenderloin with braised red cabbage
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit
2 pork tenderloins
1/4 C Coca Cola Classic
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1 green apple, chopped
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
Butter and olive oil
First things first, make your marinade. Whisk the Coke, soy sauce, brown sugar and cider vinegar and pour over the tenderloins, either in a large ziploc bag or in a dish that you cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.
Melt a couple tablespoons of butter into a large dutch oven or skillet. Add your cabbage, apple, bay leaves and about 1 cup of water. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar to cut the bitterness. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer and cover partially. Let the cabbage cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s reached a soft, fondant texture. Adjust seasoning with more salt or sugar if necessary. The liquid should be all but evaporated, leaving just a slight sauce that coats the cabbage.
For the tenderloins, remove them from the marinade, saving the excess. Heat some olive oil in an oven friendly skillet over high heat. Sear the tenderloins until golden on all sides, then place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked (Jérôme has a hard time with pink, but I can’t stand overdone…). Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining marinade to a boil and reduce by about half. You should be left with a beautiful glaze to serve over your tenderloins!