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Pork Tenderloin with Sage & Marsala Sauce

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Serves 4

  • To learn more, read:
    Fall for Sage
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 88

This may look like a special-occasion roast, but it’s actually perfect for a weeknight, and while the fried sage leaves are optional, do try them. They make an unusual crisp garnish and add visual appeal to this simple but elegant dish.
 

For the fried sage leaves (optional):
  • 12 to 16 large, whole sage leaves, thoroughly washed and dried, stems left on
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt
For the pork:
  • 1 large pork tenderloin (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.), trimmed and cut in half crosswise 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. pink peppercorns, crushed (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage leaves
Make the fried sage leaves, if using:

Pour enough olive oil in a heavy skillet to cover the bottom by about 1/8 inch and heat over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the sage leaves in a single layer and fry until brittle but still a bright green color with no browning, 15 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Cook the pork:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Season the pork tenderloin with the salt and pepper and rub it evenly with the pink peppercorns, if using.

Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Put the pork in the pan and sear it until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 140°F, 10 to 15 minutes. Move the pork to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.

Pour off and discard most of the fat left in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the Marsala. Bring to a vigorous simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the chopped sage. Swirl or stir the sauce until the butter melts.

Slice the pork into 12 pieces, arrange them on a platter, and pour the hot pan sauce over the meat. Garnish with the fried sage leaves, if using.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this dish with mashed potatoes, braised vegetables, or just a fresh green salad.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 300; Fat (g): fat g 14; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 28; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 5; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 200; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 95; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

A great recipe for just about any occasion. When arranged just the right way on a platter, it can look like an oil painting. I usually use almost double the amount of marsala. Don't neglect frying the sage leaves. It only takes a few minutes, does NOT make any kind of mess, and guests always ask what they are as they munch on them. You can roast the pork a few hours ahead of time if you're busy and keep it covered in the warming drawer...it will still be moist and delicious, especially with the sauce.

My entire family loved this. I used a pork shoulder roast that I had already, and increased the roasting time. I only had dry marsala. Fresh sage from the garden added perfect savory flavor! I served the roast with oven fried potato wedges, using basil oil and a citrus pepper blend to liven them up.

So easy and so delicious. It's not often you make/eat a meal with so few ingredients that is so flavorful!

This was very good with a few additions as others have mentioned. I added beef broth to the pan sauce as well as garlic, then just slightly thickened with wondra after it had cooked down. The fried sage is very good with this, and the cooking method/timing was perfect.

This was INSANELY good :-) I don't know where folks are getting that it is bland. It is chocked full of flavor and is one of the best dishes I have ever had. I also added 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms to the pan and let them brown and then evaporate their water before I added the Marsala wine. I served it with mashed potatoes that I made similar to a twice baked potato filling. So wonderful, I may make it again tomorrow night :-)

I found the sauce to be exceptionally bland. The pork really needed something to make you sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, even after adding 50% more wine to the sauce, there just wasn't enough taste to jump out at you. When guests had more comments about my garlic-fried onions mashed potatoes I knew the dish wasn't a hit!! I might try it again since everyone raved about the look of it, but I'll have to try some tricks to liven up the sauce. Oh yeah, the fried sage was very nice. It was worth the effort.

Loved the sauce, gives it a nice mild sweet flavor. Tried the fried sage leaves the first time making this and they were pretty but I don't bother with them anymore. I've made this one 3 times now and will continue

We didn't like this one at all. The sauce is boring and did nothing for the tender pork. The ingredients sound good and we like them all but together they really lack flavor and taste. Sage is all you get with this one.

I've made this recipe 4 or 5 times now, and it's been stellar every time. DH and I both love this one. I made it tonight with a two potato mash and sauteed spinach as the sides. Yum!

Very simple to prepare & delicious. I modified the sauce somewhat by adding beef broth, rosemary, & cornstarch. Everyone love it. I omitted the fried sage leaves.

Delicious - really easy, yet impressive enough for a small New Year's Eve dinner party! (I also added mushrooms and thought they worked well).

This was a very easy recipe to prepare. The presentation with the sage leaves was very appealing. The only caveat is that the cooking time took 10 minutes longer than advertised when using a iron frying pan.

Super easy and simple - perfect for a weeknight, or low maintenance entertaining dinner. I added a few handfuls of sliced mushrooms to the sauce pan and browned before adding the marsala for a more substantial sauce.

Super easy, 30 minutes start to finish, including cutting the sage from the garden. My husband said this is a keeper. Quick and tender and fancy enough for company. Make extra fried sage as it is great, too.

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