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How to Prepare the Perfect Holiday Roast

How to Prepare the Perfect Holiday Roast

Words Carrie Havranek

Change up your celebrations this season with our recipe for pork tenderloin with cranberry-orange sauce.

Spiral ham and roasted turkey get all the attention around the holidays but pork tenderloin with cranberry-orange sauce is a delicious alternative to the usual main course. It’s a simple and mostly hands-off dish to prepare and classic holiday herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme) give the tenderloin lots of flavor. While the pork roasts, the cranberry sauce comes together right on the stovetop.

Before you start, you might have a few questions about selecting your key ingredients. These are some factors to consider.

Pork Tenderloin or Pork Roast?

Pork cuts can be confusing; you may see both tenderloin and roast at the grocery store. The difference: Tenderloin is longer, thinner and, like its namesake, tender. It’s typically about 1 to 1½ pounds. Meanwhile, a pork roast can be up to twice that in weight and features a thicker and wider cut. You can use a roast instead of tenderloin but the roast will take longer. Either way, both of these cuts will benefit from the bright flavors of cranberry sauce.

Some pork tenderloins are sold two to a package and sometimes they’re sold in a marinade already. You can double the recipe if you want to make more or freeze one of them. But you’ll want to skip those that are already marinated since you’ll be making your own blend here.

Fresh or Frozen Cranberries?

You can use fresh or frozen cranberries for the cranberry sauce. Fresh ones are easy enough to find at the grocery store in the fall and winter months, but you can also cook them right from frozen if you like. Either way works for this pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce.

Another tip: Save yourself any last-minute stress and make the cranberry sauce a couple of days ahead of time. Store in a well-sealed container in the fridge, then serve it either cold or at room temperature with the pork.

You’ll likely have some leftover cranberry sauce and in that case, you can mix it into applesauce, oatmeal or plain yogurt for future meals. It’s great served with duck or chicken, too.

roast in roasting pan over vegetables

Pork Tenderloin With Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Serves: 3 to 4

Ingredients

1 (1 to 1½ pound) pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried sage

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 orange, zested and juiced

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Place a 12-inch carbon steel frypan or stainless steel pan in the oven while it preheats.
  2. Pat pork dry with paper towels and trim off any visible pieces of surface fat. Combine olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper in a small bowl and brush it onto the pork, coating it evenly.
  3. When the oven is preheated, use a pair of tongs to transfer pork to the preheated pan. Cook pork for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 145℉ on a precision digital instant read thermometer. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so and then remove it to a carving and cutting board.
  4. While pork is cooking, combine cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until cranberries start to pop, about 10 to 15 minutes, and sauce thickens. Cool slightly before serving.
  5. Slice pork thinly and serve with a few dollops of cranberry sauce. To complete the meal, add sides of mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

For more crowd-pleasing dishes to add to your holiday meal, check out these suggestions.

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By Carrie Havranek

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