Wether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or a special weekend feast with friends and family, this dish of roasted pork tenderloin with mushrooms, thyme, red pickled onions and pecans will impress and satisfy your guests with its French bistro elegance and amazing flavours.
I was inspired to make this recipe after eating a dish of roasted pork with oyster mushrooms at a French bistro restaurant in Paris. I loved the combination of sweet pork meat and woody mushrooms together, which were cleverly complimented with some raw pickled onions and nuts. I wanted to create something similar with the more accessible button mushrooms and some of my own additions, and thought that it would work well as a centrepiece dish at a dinner table. I think it’s a great alternative to larger roast meats or whole birds that we’re so used to for a Sunday lunch or over the holidays.
The recipe has a few parts to it but it’s not difficult in any way and can be enjoyed even on a weeknight, especially if you do a little prep ahead of time.
Pork tenderloin is also known as pork fillet and it’s a long, thin cut of pork that is very tender and juicy. I know a lot of people who generally don’t like pork but they seem to really enjoy pork tenderloin as the meat has a more subtle flavour. Personally, it’s my favourite cut of pork and I love it roasted or grilled. You can pick it up in most supermarkets or at your local butcher.
The pork is rubbed with simple warm spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, and then partially pan-fried to seal in the juices. The meat is then roasted in the oven with some red onions until lightly pink on the inside.
Alternatives to pork tenderloin: rub 6-8 pork cutlets or pork chops with the same spices and pan-fry until ready, then serve with the roasted onions, mushrooms and garnishes. Lamb, beef or chicken fillets would also work well with the flavours and ingredients of this dish.
Red onions are finely chopped and marinated in Balsamic vinegar and mustard. They add the zest and freshness to dish, as well some lovely crunch. The acidity and sweetness cut through the heavier flavours of the meat and really bring this dish to life.
I used Swiss brown/cremini mushrooms but you can buy regular white ones or mix it up with other more interesting varieties of mushrooms.
Once all ingredients are ready, all you’ll have to do is sauté some garlic and thyme in butter, or ghee/olive oil for a dairy-free version, and then assemble the dish on a big platter of choice. You could also make individual servings of this dish, beautifully presented on smaller plates.
Make ahead tips : You can rub the pork with the spices and salt and wrap with Gladwarp to store overnight in the fridge. Pickled red onions and the slicing of the onions and mushrooms can also be done ahead of time to save time.
For the pork
- 1.2 kg / 2.6 lb pork tenderloins (I used 2 whole tenderloins)
- 1 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 large red onions, cut into 8 wedges each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- A little extra salt
For balsamic mustard onions
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon aged Balsamic vinegar (or 1 tablespoon regular balsamic mixed in with 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the mushrooms
- 200 g / 7 oz cremini mushrooms, wiped and cut in halves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee (or coconut oil/lard for completely dairy-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
For the finishing sauce & garnishes
- 1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly diced
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 5-6 pecans or walnuts, chopped roughly
- Prepare the pork. In a small bowl, combine sea salt with spices and pepper. Rub the spice mix into the pork tenderloins on both sides and set aside for 15-20 minutes. You can do this ahead of time, then wrap the meat in Gladwrap or place in an airtight container and leave in the fridge overnight (make sure to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking).
- Prepare the balsamic onions. Combine diced onions with balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside to pickle for 15-20 minutes. This can also be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
- Cook the pork. Preheat the oven to 175-180 C / 350-360 F. In a large frying pan or a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over high heat. Cut the tenderloins in two halves, so they can fit in the pan. Cook over high-medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil in a flat baking tray and transfer the pork pieces to the middle. Arrange the wedges of red onions around the meat and drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with a little salt. Place the tray in the oven, middle shelf, for 18 minutes. Turn the pork over half way through and rotate the tray around for even cooking.
- Cook the mushrooms. Heat a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter (or ghee) in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and season with half a teaspoon of salt. Pan-fry for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. At the 8-minute mark, add the garlic and cook for the remaining 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Once cooked, remove the mushrooms to a bowl.
- While the pork and mushrooms are cooking, pre-chop some pecans, or other nuts of choice.
- Finish the pork. Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the pork to a cutting board and the onions to a bowl. Pour any leftover juices into an empty skillet or a frying pan and add a tablespoon of butter (or ghee), thyme leaves and garlic. Place over medium-high heat and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring through. Slice the pork (on an angle) into thick pieces and add to the pan, including any pork juices. Stir through with the thyme and garlic sauce and remove from the heat.
- Assemble the dish. Transfer the pork pieces to a large serving plate and scatter the roasted onions and mushrooms over and around the meat. Pour any remaining thyme and garlic jus over the top. Sprinkle evenly with the pickled balsamic and mustard onions and chopped pecans. You can garnish the dish with a few fresh thyme sprigs or chopped chives, parsley or scallions/green onions for some greenery. Serve right away.
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