As I mentioned in a previous post, we had an early Christmas celebration with one of my stepsons.  This year all our holiday meals were decided on a whim, serendipity playing a pretty big role. I happened to catch Marcela’s episode “My Favorite Holiday Dishes“, and while watching it with Phil he suggested we make that full menu for our Christmas dinner. Avocado-Cilantro Mousse, Pork Tenderloin, and Mexican Chocolate Souffle.   You know how we felt about the mousse, so now it’s time to share the recipe for the second course, a pork that ended up moist and tender, surrounded by the sweetness of prunes and pearl onions.


(from Marcela Valladolid)

for the brine:
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 cups warm water
6 cups cold water
2 pork tenderloins
for the herb rub:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
for the final roasting:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dried prunes, halved
1 pound pearl onions, peeled
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup pineapple juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the brine: Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and 2 cups warm water in a large bowl. Stir until the salt dissolves. Add 6 cups cold water. Add the pork, cover, and refrigerate overnight (the pork should be submerged in the liquid).
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.For the herb rub: Mix the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl. Remove the pork from the brine and pat it dry (discard the brine). Spread the herb mixture over the pork loin, making sure you coat all sides of the loin.
For the pork: Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the pork and sear until browned, 4 minutes. Carefully turn the pork over and sear until browned, another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, add the prunes and pearl onions to a baking dish, creating a bed for the loin. Transfer the seared pork loin to the baking dish (making sure the loin fits in the baking dish, leaving a 1-inch border on every side). Add the wine to the same saute pan used to sear the pork and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the browned bits, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the pineapple juice and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pork. Season the prunes and onions with salt and pepper.
Place the pork in the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees F, or to your desired level of roasting. Baste with the pan juices every 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Slice the pork into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange on a platter. Top the pork slices with the pearl onions, prunes, and sauce.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments:  I loved making this dish, it is perfect for a day spent at home, relaxing, enjoying the aromas and the anticipation of a more elaborate meal to come.  Brining the meat is the way to go when roasting pork loin (or tenderloin), as the delicate meat, so low in fat these days, can dry out in the oven.  I left the tenderloins in the brine from 8am until around 5pm.

Pork and prunes are a classic combination for good reason! This recipe is not too different from a typical meal served in my family in Brazil during the holidays, except that they like to roast a pork shoulder or butt. We call it “pernil assado“, and prunes or pineapple slices are often part of the sauce.

Leftovers were awesome on day 2 and amazing on day 4, the sauce intensified in flavor, the meat retained its moisture and tenderness. I can tell this recipe will become a regular appearance at our table.  Next time I’ll add some fennel to the bed of prunes and onions, I think its flavor would be great here.

Pork with Prunes in Pineapple Glaze

ONE YEAR AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip


FOUR YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night


  1. Ooh, Sally, this sounds delightful. I have never brined pork before (always find it amply juicy) but I’m thinking I have to give the method a try to taste the difference… love your seasonings and ingredients (especially the prunes/onions) so this may be the one! We have the same slapdash approach to holiday evening meals — you’ll laugh but I actually made meatloaf this year for Christmas dinner — it was DELISH :).


    • Love meatloaf, and in fact meatloaf has been on my list of stuff to do soon… it was the first real American dish I had when I first came to the US, so it has a special spot in my heart… 😉


  2. Sally, what does the brining actually do to the meat, I never quite understand how it works? I know it is a popular thing to do with turkeys as well in the States. I wonder if your meats are different from ours. Your food looks amazing as always and I would love to have a taste 🙂


    • Joanna, we are not too fond of brining turkey, which most people in the US love – in the case of pork, I like the extra moisture it gives the meat – it gets slightly more “plump” and juicy. One of the reasons I like to brine pork is the fact that Phil will not eat “rosy” pork. FOr him it must be fully cooked, passed medium-rare. In that case, it always turns too dry for my taste – brining the meat makes it good even “over-cooking” it (according to me) or cooking it just right (according to Phil)… 😉 We get the best of both worlds with it….


  3. Sally, I printed this recipe out before I came to the end of your post 🙂 ! A wonderful simple way of cooking the pork and tho’ am living alone at the moment shall prepare the full recipe in wait for those leftovers!! Have never brined pork either and your way does include so much more than just salt and water!! Thank you for all these special ‘tutorials’ – and hope for all things good for you in the New Year. Eleven hours to go on the East Coast of Down Under!!!!


    • One of my best friends from Brazil is spending the New Year’s Eve in Australia! Her son has been living there for almost 5 years now, and she finally went to visit. They are having a great time, loving everything! I am living vicariously through her… and wish you a wonderful New Year!


      • Thanks heaps Sally ~ if your friend is Sydney or south she should be enjoying beautiful but hot-tish weather ~ by the time you get to the level of Queensland the monsoonal patterns have begun. Happy she is having a great time . . .


  4. This sounds like a great way to roast pork, Sally, and the finished dish has that holiday look that’s so necessary when serving Christmas Dinner. I, too, brine things and love its effect on pork. Never have had a dry pork roast that’s been brined. I hope you all share a joy-filled New Year!


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