When I first ventured on my own as a private chef, business was a little slow. To make ends meet, I picked up a few events for other private chefs. On one occasion, after a long night of dinner parties, we all returned to the head chef’s home where he cooked us dinner. He tossed a few extra duck breasts in a bowl with soy sauce, vanilla, garlic and thyme and then roasted them. When the duck skin rendered enough fat, he added a few sliced apples to the pan. The vanilla flavor filled my mouth with its intoxicating aroma.
This marinade has become a staple in my repertoire and amplifies both duck and pork tenderloin. Sometimes, I add a sliver of Tahitian vanilla bean for an added explosion of flavor. Sweet potatoes taste like cotton candy when scooped up with a slice of the meat.
1 pound pork tenderloin
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 sprig thyme
2 garlic cloves, smashed
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon plain oil.
Put pork in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Let sit for at least one hour or overnight.
Turn oven to 400F. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Add oil to pan and then pork. Sear on both sides, about 5 minutes. Put in the oven and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes depending on the degree of doneness you desire.
Serve with sweet potato puree and green vegetables. If you're feeling saucy, you can also serve with a port reduction sauce.