Tis the season for food bloggers to post crazy. It seems that even those bloggers that normally only post a few times a month churn out tons of posts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And who can blame them. The season is made for cooking…and eating. There are posts on making cookies, making candies, creating holiday themed cocktails or cooking up snacks and appetizers for holiday parties. And while there are also lots of wonderful posts on creating memorial Christmas meals for the whole family there seems to be a lack of posts concerning those who aren’t spending the holidays with extended family but still would like to cook a nice meal.

That is exactly what we are doing this year. It will just be me, my wife and my daughter. While we have family only a short distance away (1 1/2 hours) we decided it would be nice just to spend a holiday with just “us”, something we’ve only done once before with our daughter. I will miss the hustle and bustle of an extended family Christmas, but it will give us a chance to make some of our own traditions and, as Christmas approaches, I find myself relishing the idea of quite, low key Christmas with just the 3 of us.

But that means no huge, roasted Turkey, Crown Roast of Pork, or Rib of Beef. Instead we are thinking smaller. Pork Tenderloin fits that bill perfectly. They normally weigh in about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds, just the right amount for a meal for 2-4 people. And better yet, they don’t take very long to cook-less than 1 hour, start to finish, including prep time. Accompanied by a dried fruit relish or chutney (look for a recipe with a twist on Cranberry relish later this week), creamy brasied cabbage and roasted root vegetables, you have the makings of a simple, yet elegant Christmas dinner that doesn’t have you spending hours in the kitchen (not a bad thing when you are cooking for a crowd, but it can be tedious when cooking for just a few people). Make the meal special by serving a nice bottle of American Pinot Noir or ratchet up the festive level and serve one of my favorite Champagnes, Billecart Salmon Rose. It will run you about $80-90, but it’s well worth it, and besides, it’s Christmas.

While I’m crusting pork in this recipe, the same procedure works just as well with lamb or chicken breasts. In fact, I think the first time I made this it was to crust Rack of Lamb at one of the first high end restaurants I ever worked at. Yes, this recipe is pretty traditional. It surely won’t win any awards for creativity or trendiness, but there is a reason the classics are classics. It’s because they work. Enjoy!!

Mustard Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
serves 2-4

1 1/2 – 2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbl. rosemary, fresh, finely chopped
1 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3-4 Tbl. Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a skillet over high heat. Meanwhile generously season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the pork tenderloin. While the pork is cooking combine the bread crumbs, rosemary, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook the tenderloin until it is seared on all sides.

Once seared on all sides remove pork from pan and pat dry to remove excess oil. Liberally coat the entire tenderloin with Dijon mustard, brushing it on with a pastry brush.

Then roll in the bread crumb mixture to crust all sides of the pork.

Place on a pan and roast, in the oven to an internal temperature of 140°F. Once the pork reaches 140°F remove from the oven, loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 8-10 minutes. This will leave you with pork that is still a little pink inside. Personally I like it this way and am loathe to return to the days when pork was cooked until grey, dry and lifeless, but if you are squeamish about pink pork then cook it to 150-155°F, but remember this is pork tenderloin and not very fatty. Cook it too far and you will have a dry tough piece of meat on your hands.

After resting, cut the pork into slices about 1/4″ thick and serve.

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