Here, we first decided on our side of Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives before we committed to the main course of Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Coriander and Mustard. Nothing boring about our penchant for Mediterranean cuisines where the flavors are big and brash, heavy on citrus, spices and bold ingredients used with abandon.
The vegetarian sweet potatoes dish was in a recent copy of Milk Street magazine who noted it originally came from German food blogger Meike Peters. So the challenge was to find a main course that would stand up to the bold flavors. In Molly Stevens’ “All About Roasting” cookbook she wrote an article on basic sear-roasted pork tenderloin that lists four different flavor options.
Our first choice, orange- and thyme-rubbed, would have been a perfect “plate-mate,” however the pork had to be seasoned for 4-24 hours ahead of time, a luxury we didn’t have. So choice number two was seasoned with rosemary, mustard and coriander—a spice also in the potato recipe. This mustard-based paste turned the simple pork tenderloin into something fragrant and special with little effort.
Now about that side dish. First, cook the potatoes with a small amount of orange juice and water until tender, then stir in candied citrus zest and chopped black olives, which provide depth and pops of briny flavor. This recipe resonated not only for its bold flavors, but also for its use of a low-liquid braise, a technique that concentrates flavor.
In Milk Street’s version, you’ll get plenty of citrus notes from the coriander and juice, and this keeps the recipe a one-pot preparation, woohoo! Then the onions are browned more for a slightly deeper flavor and cayenne pepper adds an extra bit of savoriness.
BUT, and it’s a big one, we instinctively knew that there was no way those potato chunks would be tender in 8-11 minutes. And they were not. Plan on adding another 10 minutes to this step.
TIP: Don’t use a narrow saucepan or pot for this recipe. The wider diameter of a Dutch oven allows the potatoes to be distributed in a thinner layer, which results in more even cooking.
Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 lbs. orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ⅔ cup orange juice
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ cup black or green pitted olives, or a mixture, chopped
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high, cook the oil and coriander seeds, stirring, until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the sweet potatoes, orange juice, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 8 to 11 minutes. (It took ours 20 minutes until tender.)
- Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has almost fully reduced and the potatoes are glazed, about 2 minutes.
- Off heat, stir in the olives. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
The inspiration comes from a recipe in “365,” a cookbook by German food blogger Meike Peters; reimagined by Courtney Hill for Milk Street