Last night, I tried something that my dad has wanted to try - a pork tenderloin "wellington." It came out pretty well and I'd do it again with a few experiments. Basically, we had something that didn't really resemble the classic beef wellington, but rather pork wrapped in puff pastry with some herbs. But it was full of flavor and the pork turned out to be cooked just about right. Here is what I did more or less:
Pork Tenderloin en Croute
1 whole pork tenderloin (I figure it was about a pound or a little more)
jack cheese, shredded (I think I used about a cup)
1 sheet of puff pastry
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw out the puff pastry according to box. It should be thawed by the time you are ready for it.
Prepare the pork by patting dry, slashing a few cuts in the top, and rubbing all over with a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
Finely mince as much shallot and garlic as you would like. I used one small shallot (would use more next time) and about five cloves of garlic.
Wash and pat dry several sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary. Remove rosemary leaves and finely chop. I didn't bother removing the leaves from the thyme stems.
Over low heat, warm up a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Raise heat to medium, and brown the pork tenderloin on all sides until internal temp reads 140 degrees. The pork won't be fully cooked at this point, but will finish in the oven and carry over when it rests. When done, set aside on a plate and allow it to cool for a little bit.
In the same skillet, pour in a little more olive oil, if needed, and add shallot and garlic, and a little salt, and cook until aromatic and slightly soft, but not burned. Add thyme and rosemary. Cook until aromatic. Remove from heat and put this mix in a small bowl and set aside. Remove thyme sprigs and save for use later in the sauce.
Once puff pastry is thawed, roll it out on a floured surface to a rectangle large enough to generously envelope the pork loin.
Spoon half of the shallot and herb mix on the center of the pastry. Layer about half the cheese on top of that. Then center the pork loin on top. Repeat layering the shallot mix and cheese on the top of the pork loin.
Wrap the pork in the pastry by bring sides together to form a seam. Use some water or egg wash to seal and pinch the seams. When all sealed up, put seam side down on a greased (or parchment paper covered) rimmed baking sheet. Brush egg wash all over the surface of the pastry.
Bake for about 35 minutes, give or take. The pastry should be a nice golden brown when it's done. When I pulled the pork from the oven, the internal temp was still below 160 (FDA recommended cooking time for pork) but as it rested it rose to 160. Let pork rest before cutting and serving.
Steve helped with the sauce. While the pork is finishing cooking and resting, in the same skillet, deglaze the pan by pouring in about 3/4 of a cup of beer. (Steve chose Sam Adams White Ale.) Add the saved thyme sprigs, salt, pepper, water if needed, and flour/cornstarch if you want a thicker sauce. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the fond off the pan and stir until sauce reduces to a taste and consistency you like. Remove thyme sprigs once again and serve over slices of pork.
I served this with mashed potatoes and asparagus.
Notes on how to make this better:
Use a more flavorful cheese. The jack in this recipe really only served to keep the pork moist during the baking process. We hardly noticed any cheese while we ate. I was originally going to use something like Gorgonzola, but then had second thoughts. Will either try Gorgonzola next time, or maybe use slices of provolone to wrap as a layer around the pork before wrapping in the pastry.
Maybe instead of cheese, use the traditional wellington filling of herbed mushrooms.
Use a fruity red wine to make the sauce. I am without an everyday red right now, so that's why we used beer, which turned out really well. But I'd like to try other liquids for the sauce just for experiment's sake.