“I believe that if I ever had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around”
Tarragon, that anise-like herb that came to America with the Colonists is subtle, yet defining. Called dracunculus (little dragon) for its serpentine, dragon-like roots, tarragon is used to flavor vinegar, mustard and relish. Of course, it is integral to a classic Bearnaise sauce. Tarragon pairs well with fish, shellfish, chicken, eggs and grilled meats.
Fresh tarragon is preferred over the dried form of the herb because the essential oil which gives tarragon its distinctive licorice flavor is mostly lost in the drying process. French tarragon is the most flavorful type of tarragon, especially in comparison to Russian tarragon, whose flavor pales in comparison.
Tarragon is delicate (although too much can overpower a dish), and does not pair well with more assertive aromatics such as rosemary, sage and thyme. Tarragon combines nicely with other mild herbs such as parsley, chervil and chives to make the classic fines herbs (which may have marjoram also). Fine herbs (as opposed to a bouquet garni) should be added towards the end of cooking because the flavors and aromas are delicate, and dissipated with heat.
For the uninitiated, try making a compound butter with minced tarragon leaves and melt over cooked asparagus, potatoes, corn or peas. You wont be disappointed!
Pork Tenderloin with a Blackberry and Tarragon Sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup water
- 6 stems fresh tarragon, roughly chopped to release flavor, plus 1 tablespoons minced fresh leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- pork loin- I buy vacuum sealed loins with 2 loins per package
- 1/2 cup Port wine
- salt and pepper to taste
To begin the sauce, heat butter over medium heat and sautee shallots until soft and translucent, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add berries and water and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the berries are macerated, or broken down. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until it is reduced by half. Check seasoning and adjust. Strain sauce through a fine sieve or chinoise and reserve until pork is done.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
For the pork, begin by patting the pork loins dry and generously salt and pepper each piece. Heat skillet over high and add olive oil. Add pork loins to the pan and sear the meat on all sides. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook until internal temperatures reaches 150 degrees for medium.*
Remove pork from skillet and allow to rest, lightly tented with aluminum foil. Heat the skillet over medium high heat and deglaze with Port wine. Add reserved sauce and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning to taste.
To serve, spoon sauce over sliced pork and garnish with fresh tarragon and blackberries.
*For a complete guide to internal meat temperature doneness, check out this chart.
Pork Tenderloin with a Blackberry and Tarragon Sauce is being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, founded by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. This week, WHB is being hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons.