I have heard many chefs wax on about vermouth sauces, but have never actually cooked one myself. Vermouth was a favorite of Julia Child’s and, well, who am I to argue with Julia? This sauce was slightly modified from one I found on the blog, Just Braise. With an over-achieving sage plant in the backyard, whipping cream in the fridge, and vermouth in the cabinet, I was ready to go. Let me tell you, in not uncertain terms, that this is one of the best sauces I have ever made. My husband asked me to save the leftover sauce so that he could drizzle it in his lunchtime wrap sandwich. It’s a good thing he asked, or I would have happily spooned the rest of the sauce straight into my mouth. The sauce was served over a pepper-rubbed pork tenderloin, but it would also work beautifully with chicken or beef.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mortar or an electric coffee/spice grinder, combine 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and 2 teaspoons peppercorns.
Grind with the pestle or spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Rub the peppercorn mixture over a 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork in the skillet and brown all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Do not be tempted to skip this step! Searing the pork before placing it in the oven serves two purposes. First, searing helps to seal in the flavors. Second, this is how you will get all of those tasty brown bits on the bottom of the pan, which will add another layer of flavor to your sauce. You can’t argue with that.
Place the skillet in the oven and cook the pork until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. The pork will rise another 5 degrees or so after you remove it from the pan. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Important: Remember that the handle of the skillet will be very hot! I literally touched the a handle 4 or 5 times. Slow learner.
Remove any large burned garlic pieces from the pan and then place it over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup of dry vermouth to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to cook off the alcohol and reduce the vermouth slightly. While cooking, scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. When you taste the sauce, prepare yourselves for the fact that you may not be able to stop slurping it by the spoonful. It’s that good.
Slice the pork, on a diagonal, into 1/2-inch slices. Stir any pork juices into the sauce. Serve the pork with the sauce.
Cookin’ Canuck’s Four-Spice Pork with Spinach
In a mortar or an electric coffee/spice grinder, combine fennel seeds and peppercorns. Grind with the pestle or spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Rub the peppercorn mixture over the pork tenderloin.