A coating of walnuts makes the meal special

Looking for a headliner dish for a New Year’s Eve dinner? Try black walnut-crusted pork tenderloin accompanied by mango-berry thyme compote and orange saffron rice.

Festive black walnut-crusted pork with mango-berry compote and orange saffron rice uses the less common black walnut that has a flavour that works nicely with the saffron in the rice.

Looking for a headliner dish for a New Year’s Eve dinner? Try black walnut-crusted pork tenderloin accompanied by mango-berry thyme compote and orange saffron rice.

Black walnuts are a less common cousin to the regular English walnut. They have a fragrant, almost herbal quality that works nicely with the saffron and thyme. If you can’t find black walnuts, regular walnuts work well, too.

Cheese and walnuts are an ever-popular entertaining duo.

Walnut-Crusted Pork With Mango-Berry Thyme Compote and Orange Saffron Rice

Compote

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme leaves

3 cloves minced garlic

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground black pepper

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced

1 pkg (284 g/10 oz) frozen blueberries

125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

Rice

Pinch saffron threads

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground black pepper

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 2 oranges

375 ml (11/2 cups) long-grain white rice

625 ml (21/2 cups) water

Pork

340 g (3/4 lb) pork tenderloin

250 ml (1 cup) breadcrumbs

250 ml (1 cup) finely chopped black walnuts

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground black pepper

Zest of 1 orange

50 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil, divided

Compote: In a medium saucepan over medium, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, to prepare rice, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit with the cover still on for another 10 minutes.

While rice and compote cook, prepare pork. Slice tenderloin diagonally to create long pointed pieces about 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick.

In a shallow bowl, combine panko, walnuts, salt, pepper and orange zest. Press pork into mixture, ensuring entire piece of meat is coated.

In a medium pan over medium, heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the oil. Working in batches, fry crusted cutlets until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Repeat with remaining pork, adding oil as needed. Serve over rice and topped with warm compote.

Makes 4 servings.

Walnut Cheese Ball

750 ml (3 cups) shredded old white cheddar cheese

125 ml (1/2 cup) butter

1 clove garlic, minced

5 ml (1 tsp) Dijon mustard

2 ml (1/2 tsp) onion powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce

30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped fresh chives

15 ml (1 tbsp) port or sherry (optional)

125-175 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) toasted walnut pieces

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except walnuts. Pulse until mixture is smooth. Remove to a medium bowl; cover and chill until slightly firm. Shape into a ball or roll into a log. Roll in toasted walnuts to coat evenly. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm. Allow to warm at room temperature before serving. May be kept in refrigerator up to 5 days.

To toast walnuts: Spread chopped walnuts on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan. Bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir several times. Keep an eye on them, as they burn easily. Let cool.

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