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When I first got married, my mother-in-law handed me a stack of little white index cards, on which she had copied recipes for dinners that her son (my new husband) had loved and grown up with. Or, in the case of the Chicken Cacciatore, had merely grown up with. I imagined they had been copied from recipe cards given to her by her mother-in-law or grandparents or from really old cookbooks with yellowed pages and dishes that involved aspic.
Whatever their provenance, though (I never asked—what would be more romance-dashing than finding out they are from, say, Cooking Light?) it doesn’t really matter. Both my husband and I regularly cook these dishes for our kids, who gobble up the meals like greedy little beasts. They are basic meals that would fit into any family’s weeknight rotation (beef stew, meatloaf, meatballs, etc.), but there is one recipe (which takes up two index cards) that is for special occasions only.
It is the amazingly delicious Port-Marinated Tenderloin with Cranberries. Unlike the others in the cache, I’ve never actually made it because we only ever eat it on Christmas and if it’s Christmas, it’s my mother-in-law who is cooking. And that is just fine with me.
Port-Marinated Tenderloin with Cranberries
1 beef tenderloin (approximately 3 pounds for 6 people)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup port
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 fresh thyme springs
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon flour
1. In a large zip-top bag, combine tenderloin, cranberries, cranberry juice, port, sugar, thyme, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Seal and marinate for 24 hours, turning occasionally. Remove and reserve marinade.
2. Preheat oven to 500°F
3.Place tenderloin on a broiler pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Place in oven and immediately lower temperature to 350°F. Bake approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 145°F (medium-rare) to 160°F (medium). Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
4.In a large skillet, combine flour with two tablespoons of reserved marinade and whisk until combined. Add remaining marinade. Whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes until thick, stirring constantly. Serve warm with tenderloin.
Jenny Rosenstrach is a writer, editor and mom of two young girls. She writes the blog Dinner: A Love Story.