I love this time of year - cool days, cooler nights, and the Crock-Pot on the counter, filling our home with the most delicious aromas! I may have mentioned this a time or two, but the mister is no barometer of taste, he loves anything bland and boring and is quick to pull a face when served something with actual flavor. Every once in a while though, the mister will surprise me - like when he bit into this - he was mid-sentence, giving me the latest doom and gloom forecast for Global Headquarters (according to him, we are always swirling down the drain), when he lifted his fork to his pork-hole, took a bite, stopped his diatribe and said, "Wow, this is great!" I was, as I said, surprised, because while I think this is truly wonderful and delicious, I didn't think the mister would enjoy it...of course, he then followed his nice comment with, "Did you make this?" I bit my tongue, yet again, as I slowly moved my arm, ala Vanna White, around me - pointing out the obvious dirty dishes, pots and pans...why yes, Sherlock, I did!
Now before you turn your nose up at the sound of grape gravy...first, think of it as a sauce and second, allow me to point out that many people enjoy pork with apples and pork with cherries...fruit and pork marry well...but let me tell you straight, pork and grapes make for a celestial marriage! I went looking for Concord grapes for this dish, I wanted the more robust flavor they would provide, but couldn't find them anywhere - was told I'm a bit early and they should be in the stores (those that carry them) within the next few weeks. I discovered Niabell grapes which are indeed Concord-like!! And they worked just as I had hoped!
Pork tenderloin usually comes two to a package, I just used one and when all was said, done and eaten, regretted not using both - we scarfed it up way too fast and now we have no left-overs! While the pork is browning, not necessary but it does add extra flavor, apple cider and grape juice is added to the Crock-Pot with the grapes, diced yellow onion and salt and pepper...the gravy in the making!
The tenderloin is added to the Crock-Pot where it cooks in the delicious grape mixtures for four hours - and your house will smell amazing! After four hours (my Crock-Pot cooks on the slow side, even on high) the pork is removed and everything left in the Crock is blended till smooth...except for the grape seeds! Concord and Niabell grapes have seeds so the sauce has to be strained.
After straining the sauce, you cook it on the stove top until it's reduced by half - allowing those flavors to really be enhanced...do your best to resist the urge to just put a straw into the pan and suck it all up - it's that good.
There's only one more thing left for me to say...CREAM. Yep, cream...just a teensy bit is added to the reduced grape gravy - voila! Beautiful color, beautiful taste - pour the gravy over the sliced tenderloin and wait for the oohs and aahs...this is the perfect fall meal - the sweetness of the grapes with the savory pork makes this the perfect company dish - for those you want to impress, and they needn't know it required so little of you.
Pork Tenderloin with Grape Gravy - Pots and Pins
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup grape juice
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb. Concord or Niabell grapes, stems removed (save a few for garnish, which I forgot to do!)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
1/4 cup heavy cream
Turn the Crock-Pot on high and add the apple cider, grape juice, grapes and onion. Using a potato-smasher, smash the grapes just a little bit to release their juice. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and when hot add the tenderloin; brown on all sides. Remove tenderloin to the Crock-Pot and nestle it in the grape mixture. Put on the lid, and cook for four hours. (As I mentioned above, my Crock-Pot seems to cook on a lower temp, even while on high, so check your tenderloin after 3 1/2 hours for doneness - it should be tender, without any pink.)
When done, remove tenderloin to plate. Using an immersion blender, blend the juices in the Crock-Pot. (You can also use a regular blender, just process in small batches so you don't get burned!) Once blended, strain the gravy into a saute pan. Return the tenderloin to the Crock-Pot, turning heat to warm, to keep warm until ready to serve. Over medium-high heat, cook the gravy until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice tenderloin into 1/2-inch slices, pour grape gravy over the top, top with some of the reserved grapes to garnish, then serve. Serves 4.