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Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage



  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 6 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 3 strips (about 1 tablespoon) orange zest, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, from 1 to 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Chef notes

    I love using simple methods to add big flavors. Here, turbinado sugar (brown sugar melted into a bit of a mess) is mixed with sage, cayenne and orange zest to create a bold tasting topping for pork tenderloin. The pork is started in a skillet and then finished under a broiler, which caramelizes the sugar mixture. The dish also makes its own vibrant sauce, which is finished with cider vinegar for extra punch.



    Heat the broiler to high with a rack 6 inches from the element. Pat the pork dry, then use a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet to gently flatten the pieces to an even 1-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, use your fingers to rub together the sugar, orange zest, 1 tablespoon of the sage and the cayenne. Set aside.


    In a 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just beginning to smoke. Add the pork and cook until deep golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pork browned side up to a large plate; reserve the skillet. Use your hands to press the sugar mixture onto the tops of the pork pieces in an even layer. Return to the skillet, sugar side up. Set under the broiler until the meat registers 135°F at the center and the sugar mixture is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a carving board and let rest.


    Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium-high heat on the stovetop. Add the orange juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of sage and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pork over the sauce.