Saturday, 4 November 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Goat Cheese in Filo Pastry

Last time I was grocery shopping I picked up a package of filo pastry, not for any particular recipe, but just because I love the crisp, flaky layers created when it bakes. When I realized that there was some fresh spinach and goat cheese that needed to be made use of, the filo popped into my mind.

I would usually reach for chicken breasts to wrap in filo, but I had just bought some pork tenderloin, so I went with this instead. It also allowed me to use the half jar of cherry and port jelly...both in the pastry and as a sauce when I served the filo wrapped pork.

The other item in the fridge that I used was the fresh sage, but as my husband is not a huge fan of  large amounts of this herb, I infused some of it in olive oil and used this instead of butter on the filo pastry.

A few hours before starting the filo, infuse some olive oil with fresh sage and garlic. To do this heat:

1/2 cup olive oil
3 - 4 sage leaves,roughly torn
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Heat until the oil starts to bubble around the sage leaves and garlic, and then remove from the heat and allow it to infuse.

Wilt the fresh spinach, drain and allow it to cool completely.

You will need:

3 - 4 large handfuls of spinach

Turn the oven on to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the spinach is cool, squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can, and roughly chop it. you should have:

1/2 cup chopped spinach

Combine it with:

1 cup soft goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper.

Heat some of the sage infused olive oil in a pan large enough to fit the pork, and keeping the heat high, sear all sides of the pork.

Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.

On a clean counter, lay out 1 piece of filo pastry, and brush it with the sage infused oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of ground black pepper.

Repeat until you have a stack of 4 filo sheets, brushing the last layer with oil.

Fold a sheet of filo in half, brushing the middle with oil, and placing it across the centre of your stack of filo sheets.

Brush the top of the folded sheet with oil.

Brush a layer of cherry and port jelly over the half sheet of filo.

Place half of the spinach and goat cheese across the centre of the jelly.

Place the seared pork on top of the spinach and goat cheese, and then spread the remaining spinach and goat cheese across the top of the pork.

Start to fold the filo pastry around the pork:

Fold the long edge over the pork, and then tuck the two short ends over, as shown.

Continue to roll the pork tenderloin and pastry up until you have a sealed roll.

Place the filo wrapped pork seam side down onto the baking sheet, and brush the top with the sage infused olive oil.

Bake until the pork is cooked through and the filo is golden and crisp, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Let the pork rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into 1/2" thick slices. I served the filo wrapped pork with creamy leek mashed potatoes and green beans. Heat any remaining jelly, and drizzle it onto the plate, or pass it at the table.

  • The flakiness in filo pastry is created by layering the paper thin sheets of pastry with melted butter. I opted to use olive oil instead of butter: it's a healthier fat, and it also allowed me to infuse it with the sage and garlic.
  • If you wish to use melted butter, mince the garlic and sage and sprinkle a small amount over the butter in between each layer of pastry.
  • As far as flavours go, any fresh herb can be used. Good choices with pork are also rosemary or thyme.
  • There was olive oil left over, and I have been using it to cook other things, such as onions for pasta sauce last night. Nothing needs to go to waste!
  • Filo pastry is very delicate, handle it with care. Keep the sheets that you aren't using well covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
  • The cherry and port jelly added a nice touch of sweetness, which is always nice with pork. Any type of jelly, sweet or sweet and spicy can be used.
  • This can also be made using beef or lamb tenderloin, or chicken breast.
  • The baking time for this depends on the size of your pork tenderloin, and how long it was seared for.
  • The wrapped pork can be made a day ahead, and stored well wrapped in the fridge. It can also be frozen. Defrost before baking.
  • To make the creamy leek mashed potatoes, boil and mash potatoes as you normally would. While the potatoes are boiling, cook half a leek, thinly sliced in some olive oil, and add 1/4 cup of whipping cream when the leeks are soft. Allow the cream to reduce slightly. Season with salt and pepper and stir into the hot mashed potatoes.

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