Here we go again — Mardi Gras season in Louisiana just finished this week. This brings up many memories of visits to New Orleans during the weeks of Mardi Gras season to take in all the parades and other festivities. It also brings recollections of traditional French and Creole restaurants in this city as we often ate a fancy dinner at an up-scale restaurant during these trips. “Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Fig Glaze” is an elegant entree fitting for a Mardi Gras buffet or party. The recipe originates with the venerable New Orleans restauranteer, Ralph Brennan. His creation of stuffed roast pork tenderloin with fig glaze is an absolutely delicious way to prepare a pork roast and also feature southern figs. It is a quintessential New Orleans recipe. The pork roast medallions fit perfectly into a Mardi Gras themed event. Really, it can be served any time of the year. Here’s my rendition of the recipe.
The recipe comes from restauranteer, Ralph Brennan, who owns/manages several restaurants in New Orleans including Brennan’s, Napoleon House, Red Fish Grill, Ralph’s on the Park and Cafe NOMA. This restaurant “giant” is the third generation of his family to be involved in the restaurant business in New Orleans and he literally grew up in the family’s restaurant kitchen. The recipe for “Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Fig Glaze” was featured in an elaborate Christmas spread in the now defunct Fine Cooking Magazine (Winter 2014/2015 Issue). Brennan’s fliar for classic French and Creole cooking was on display in the foods that he created for the buffet and dinner party. The menu was actually prepared for a Revelation Dinner celebration on Christmas Eve — a largely forgotten, but recently revived south Louisiana Catholic tradition. However, the pork tenderloin recipe fits in perfectly with any fancy meal — including parties during the Mardi Gras season.
Fig Glaze Recipe
You can’t get more southern that using “figs” in a dish. The addition of rosemary and cloves to the glaze really gives it a unique “punch.” In the recipe, a fig glaze is stewed up which uses dried Misson figs steeped with port (or red) wine and onion and then pureed with honey, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and cloves. The glaze is doused on the pork tenderloins at the end of roasting. Pass additional fig glaze at the table.
If you don’t like figs — try this fig glaze. When served with the stuffed pork medalions, this entree will win you over. Plus, I like the idea of using local ingredients — such as figs — in recipes and this idea caught my attention. Although fresh figs are not in season in the winter, dried figs and fig preserves certainly can be substituted. I found these figs at our neighborhood Sprouts Farmers Market.
Recipe for Pork Tenderloin Medallions
The recipe uses whole pork tenderloins which are stuffed with a eclectic mixture of ingredients. The strong flavors of goat cheese, bacon and pecans blend well with the pork tenderloin and fig glaze.
To make the recipe, the bacon, onions, garlic and pecans are all sauteed. Then the rest of the stuffing ingredients are mixed in (goat cheese, egg, salt, pepper and fresh parsley). The whole tenderloins are stuffed and closed with toothpicks. My package of pork tenderloins actually included two small one-pound tenderloins. I used both of them, pounding them down to make them thinner. After stuffing, sear the tenderloins on the stove and then roast in an oven — using a themometer to check the doneness. It didn’t take long for these small tenderloins to roast. At the end of cooking, some of the fig glaze is doused on.
It is best to let the whole tenderloins “sit” on a cutting board for about 15 minutes. They will be easier to slice. Slice thinly and serve on a buffet spread. I garnished these with curly parsley. Pass additional fig glaze.
Serve “Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Fig Glaze” during Mardi Gras festivities as well as the Christmas holidays, for a Christmas Eve Revelation Dinner or really any time at all. I love the parades, revelery and pagentry of Mardi Gras. It is a unique part of our Louisiana culture. Come visit us sometime! Return home with lots of beads, trinkets, and memories of good times and great food!
Pecan-Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Fig Glaze
Ingredients for fig glaze:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1-1/2 cup chopped dried Mission figs
- 1/2 cup red cooking wine
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste.
- 1/2 cup water, more as needed
Ingredients for pork:
- 2 (1-pound) whole pork tenderloins
- 4 slices thick applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup (4 oz) chopped pecans
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3.5 oz fresh goat cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- curly parsley, garhish, optional
Other: 18 toothpicks
Method and Steps:
- For the fig glaze: heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the yellow onion; stir and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the figs and wine. Stir well and scrape the bottom of the skillet to deglaze.
- Turn the stove heat down to low. Return the skillet to the heat. Cover and simmer until the figs are very soft, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, cloves and a pinch each of salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Let the mixture sit for 1 hour.
- Transfer to medium-sized food processor bowl and puree until smooth, adding 1/2 cup water. Add additional water — up to 1-1/2 cups — to loosen to thick consistency. (May make glaze up to 2 days ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.)
- For the pork: Soak 18 toothpicks in water.
- Butterfly the pork tenderloins by slitting each one lengthwise, enough that it can be opened like a book and lie almost flat. Cover each tenderloin with plastic wrap and pound with meat mallet until about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.
- Add the bacon to a large, heavy skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
- Add chopped onion and cook until browned, about 5 additional minutes.
- Add the pecan pieces and garlic and cook one additional minute.
- Remove skillet from heat. Let cool to room temperature.
- Fold in the goat cheese, parsley and egg.
- Place the flattened tenderloins with long sides facing towards you on a tray or cutting board. Divide the stuffing mixture between the two tenderloins, spreading it evenly over each one — but not completely to the edges. Starting with the bottom side, tightly roll up each tenderloin and secure the seams with the toothpicks.
- Season all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the tenderloins and sear, turning occasionally, sear all sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Transfer seared, stuffed tenderloins to a large roasting pan which will fit tenderloins.
- Roast to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15 minutes.
- Warm 1 cup of fig glaze and transfer to a gravy boat. Use the remaining fig glaze to baste the tenderloins. Lather on fig glaze about every minute, for 5 additional minutes, until pork is done cooking.
- Transfer pork tenderloin to cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove toothpicks. Slice across the grain into thin pieces and place on serving platter. Garnish with curly parsley, optional. Serve with remaining fig glaze.
(Recipe is adapted from “Crescent City Christmas” Fine Cooking Magazine, Dec 2014/Jan 2015 Vol 132 pp 38-47)
What is a Revelation Dinner?
Revelaton Dinner celebrations are a French Catholic tradition in the Creole and Cajun parts of Louisiana, especially New Orleans. By traditional, Catholic families in South Louisiana attend Christmas Eve mass, often fasting during the afternoon and evening. After midnight, they sit down to a meal featuring gumbo. Contemporary families may open presents at this time. Traditionally, elaborate “Revelation Meals” followed with celebrations lasting until the break of dawn. Although the all-night celebrations are mostly a thing of the past, Christmas Eve mass is still very much a part of the Catholic tradition here. And Revelation dinners (now before midnight), largely became extinct in the mid-1900’s. However, in recent years, these elaborate dinners have been revived by restauranteer’s as a way to foster their business during the slow convention holiday season. And so Ralph Brennan’s Revelation Dinner spread was featured in the Fine Cooking Magazine.
Oh yum! This sounds fancy yet home-y! I love anything with figs and goat cheese. My hubby won’t touch the latter, so I’d have to sub feta or maybe bleu cheese. Sounds great!
Hello, Thanks for your comment. Yes, goat cheese has a distinctive flavor. For a milder version, other cheeses might substituted including the bleu cheese and perhaps ricotta or feta cheese or maybe something totally different like Gruyère cheese. I think this recipe would be fine with any of these other cheeses — perhaps even improved!