It is not often that fresh apricots are available here, and as they were not very ripe I thought they’d be most suited to make a sauce. I decided to follow the example of Conor, the king of meat with fruit, and serve the apricot sauce with pork. I decided on pork tenderloin, but pork loin or a more fatty cut of pork such as neck or shoulder would perhaps work even better as this sauce will cut right through the fattiness. Pork (tender)loin dries out easily, so make sure to either use sous-vide or a meat thermometer to ensure moist tender pork. For the apricot sauce I used ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and rose water to spice it up. The spices and rose water give the sauce a wonderful aroma. The pork itself was flavored with rosemary and garlic. The flavors worked very well together. Here is what I did…
For 4 servings
2 pork tenderloins, about 600 grams (1.3 lb) total weight
500 grams (1.1 lb) fresh apricots, preferably ripe
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp rose water
1/2 Tbsp cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
Combine 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 Tbsp of minced rosemary in a small bowl.
Add olive oil to the spice rub, stir, and rub the pork tenderloin with this mixture on all sides.
If cooking sous-vide, vacuum seal the pork…
…and cook it sous-vide for 1 hour at 57C/135F. This is enough to pasteurize the meat, so it will be perfectly safe to eat even though it will look pink.
(If not cooking sous-vide, brown the meat on all sides (see below) and cook it in the oven at 150C/300F to a core temperature of 57C/135F, then wrap it in aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.)
Meanwhile, make the apricot ginger sauce. Start by removing the stones from the apricots. If they are ripe, you should be able to break them in half with your fingers and the stone will be loose. Discard the stones.
Put the apricots in a saucepan together with a stick of cinnamon, 1/2 Tbsp of cardamom pods, 1 Tbsp of minced ginger, 50 grams of sugar, and about 120 ml (1/2 cup) of water.
Turn the heat on. The apricots will start releasing juices.
When the sauce boils, reduce the heat such that it keeps simmering, and simmer uncovered until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon and cardamom pods and discard.
Puree the sauce with an immersion blender.
Add 2 Tbsp of rose water and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You may wish to add some more sugar as well, depending on the ripeness of the apricots.
Take the meat out of the sous-vide when you are ready to serve. It should be in the sous-vide at least an hour, but 2 or 3 hours is fine, too. Sous-vide is flexible that way, as the meat will become more tender only at a very slow rate.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the pork tenderloin.
Brown it on all sides.
Wrap it in aluminum foil to allow it to rest for about 5 minutes. (I put the wrapped tenderloin on a wooden board as that insulates further against cooling off as compared to putting it on a metal or stone surface.) Gently reheat the sauce while the meat rests.
After resting slice the pork tenderloin…
…and serve it with the sauce on preheated plates.
As the sauce is quite sweet, a wine with some residual sugar is required. If you think of rose water and ginger, there is one grape variety that comes to mind and that is gewurztraminer. We enjoyed this dish tremendously with a 2007 late harvest gewurztraminer from Alsace. Late harvest is called “vendanges tardives” in French, and it is not as sweet as “sélection de grain nobles” (when the grapes are affected by botrytis).
Spaghetti alla Checca is cold (or lukewarm) spaghetti, served with uncooked tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, caciotta romana cheese, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Caciotta romana is a mild cheese from sheep’s milk, and hard to find around here. So I decided to use burrata as a substitute for both mozzarella and caciotta (although that is not traditional). This dish is perfect for a summer meal outside and so easy to make. If you’d like to prepare it in advance, keep all the components separate and mix them only at the last minute.