Here's one of my favourite ways to use cranberries. And there's no family gathering for a major holiday involved. It's a pork tenderloin rolled up with brie (or camembert), cranberries and herbs...and topped with a cranberry sauce. All in all, it's about half an hour of work, and just about half an hour to cook it.
Don't be shy about cooking a pork tenderloin for guests...it's a lean cut of meat, and this presentation is quite something. They'll be impressed...trust me. [If you're really not a fan of pork, you can use some big boneless/skinless chicken breasts, instead. Cook them for about 45 to 55 minutes. Just make sure to cover them with foil for the first 35 minutes of cooking to prevent them from drying out.]
PORK TENDERLOIN STUFFED WITH BRIE & CRANBERRIES
300-400g pork tenderloin
1/2 C cranberries (fresh or frozen, but not canned), roughly chopped
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 shallot, finely chopped (or red onion, about 2 TBSP, finely chopped)
1 tsp thyme and/or marjoram
pinch salt, black pepper
4 slices brie or camembert cheese
white wine or water
Take a pork tenderloin (that¹s the long, skinny piece of pork), and butterfly it. To do this, place it lengthwise on a cutting board. With a carving knife or filet knife (or your skinniest chef's knife), slice 7/8 of the way through the loin, starting at the top end and finishing at the bottom end. This will allow you to open the loin up flat, like a book. Now, with a meat tenderizing hammer or a small heavy pot, pound the crap outta that meat. You want it about a quarter inch thin and evenly sized (aim to create a rectangle). I like to put a piece of clear plastic wrap over the pork before I pound it - easier clean up and less spraying of raw pork.
[If you botch it the butterflying, well, continue anyway, and try harder next time. It takes a deft hand, but it¹s not brain surgery. You can always cover it with the cranberry chutney if it looks terrible!]
Throw some black pepper on your opened up tenderloin and set it aside. For extra flavour, rub in a bit of your herbs of choice.
In a small bowl, mix cranberries and sugar. Add shallot/onion, salt and a bit of pepper, and herbs. If you feel like zing, add about half a teaspoon of lemon zest. Mix well.
Place your tenderloin in front of you, lengthwise (ie long up, not long sideways). About 1/4 of the way up, place two slices brie, across (perpendicular) the loin. Spoon half your cranberry mixture on top. Further up the tenderloin (at the 2/3 point) place the remaining cheese and mixture.
Working carefully from the end nearest you, roll the loin up tightly, like a jelly roll. Some filling will come out either side, but you can shove it back in there once you have the loin tied up. Using butcher's twine (or string, doubled over), tie the loin up in two spots, about 1 inch in from each side. You can truss it up as much as you want if you think you've overstuffed it.
Place the loin in a shallow baking dish. Splash white wine or water into the dish, to get a maximum of about a 1/4 inch in depth. Sprinkle some more marjoram or thyme over the loin, along with a little pepper. Cover with foil, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, bake another 7 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for two minutes, remove string, and carefully slice into in 1/2 inch pieces. (FYI, slightly pink pork is perfectly okay - though the first time I was served slightly rare pork I just about sent it back to the kitchen, I've since learned there's little to fear with a slightly rare pork loin).
Give each person two slices. Serve with a couple of tablespoons of Cranberry Chutney (see below).
Serves two to three (easily multiplied).
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped
3 TBSP granulated sugar (more, to taste)
1/4 cup red onion, or two shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup Port or red wine (or orange juice)
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
pinch lemon zest (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
Heat onion in oil in small heavy saucepan to soften. Add black pepper.
Add cranberries, sugar, wine, balsamic, zest, and a pinch of salt. Simmer over low heat for an hour or more, checking that mixture doesn¹t dry out (in which case you should add a splash more of Port or orange juice).
Serve warm or cold. Keeps about one week in refrigerator if covered. But you won't need to store it that long. It's good on every kind of sandwich, on chicken and pork dishes, and a whole lot of other ways.
Both of these recipes are easily modified. You could experiment with different herbs and apples or pear instead of cranberries, for example. Have fun!