Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

Our son James had problems with attention deficit and hyperactivity.  It was tough for him to sit for long periods of time. Laura asked James if he would like to join us at a very fancy restaurant in celebration of Jim’s 40th birthday. However, she insisted that if he were to join us, he would have to sit still and not fidget throughout the entire meal. Otherwise, she said, we would be happy to get a babysitter for him while we went out.

James agreed to “be good” throughout the dinner. We were happy to have him join us and it turned out to be one of our most fond memories.

We went to a restaurant in Worcester MA that Jim had heard of and wanted to try because he had heard good things about the food and service. It was called Stendel’s. We all dressed up. James had on a coat and tie, which was not unusual because the school he attended at the time insisted that all students wear coats and ties (remember this was New England in the early 90’s not laid-back California.)

So the waiter came up and asked us what we would like. Eight year old James looked at his menu and asked to start with the “Country Pâté” except he pronounced  “pate” to rhyme with “mate”. The waiter, to his great credit, did not blink, eye-roll, or miss a beat and just said, “Excellent choice sir.” Laura and I looked at each other then winked – this waiter was going to get a big tip.

James went on to order a tenderloin of pork with a sun-dried cherry reduction. He later said that he expected it to have sweet cherries like on top of pancakes, but he liked it anyway and ate the whole thing.

It was the first time that the three of us were able to go out to a fine restaurant and enjoy the evening together and it was a huge milestone for James, who up until then was unable to sit still long enough to plow through a evening out. So I made this recipe as a tribute to James, who by now has conquered his ADHD, or at least learned to deal with it, as he is attending Business School full time at Portland State University, doing very well and loving it. To this day he’ll mention that evening out, how he liked the food and ambience. He’ll also share that sitting still for that length of time was, up to that time in his life, the hardest thing he ever did.


Serves: 4

Jim Kirkley

Pork Tenderloin With Cherry Sauce


4 tablespoons, olive oil – divided
1 cup, shallots – sliced thin
1 teaspoon, coriander
2 pounds, pork tenderloin – two tenderloins
1 tablespoon, salt
1 teaspoon, fresh ground black pepper
1 cup, chicken broth
1 cup, dry red wine
1 tablespoon, balsamic vinegar
2 cups, frozen dark sweet cherries – 1 – 10 ounce package
10 sprigs, thyme
2 tablespoons, butter – cold
1 tablespoon, light brown sugar
3 – 4 basil leaves – chopped for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F Warm 1 tablespoon oil in ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 1 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels; reserve.
  2. Season tenderloin with coriander, salt and pepper. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add tenderloin and cook until browned, about 9 minutes, turning as needed to brown evenly.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven. Cook until internal temperature of pork reaches 140°F, about 20-30 minutes for medium rare. Transfer tenderloin to cutting board and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Return skillet to stove top.
  4. Add red wine, chicken broth, vinegar, thyme, and cherries to skillet on medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits with spatula. Mash cherries with fork and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Lower heat to medium, add butter and brown sugar, and swirl pan until well incorporated. Remove thyme sprigs.
  5. To serve, slice warm tenderloin on diagonal, top with sauce, and sprinkle on reserved shallots and basil if using.


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