Elk Tenderloin with Chili Spiked Cranberry Agrodolce

By: Sal + Val Gray + Nina Pucillo | Italian Hearts


  • 1 (5 LB) Durham Ranch Elk Tenderloin
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Fresh Thyme to Decorate the Plate


  •  4 Cups Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 Bottle Chardonnay
  • ½ Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Sea Salt
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper Corns
  • 1 tsp Whole Clove


  •  3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Shallots, Minced
  • 6 Cups Fresh Cranberries, Organic
  • 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Jar (3 Cups) Italian Hearts Val’s Vegetarian Pasta Sauce
  • ¾ Cup Cranberry Juice Concentrate (Organic, 100% Juice, No Added Sugar)
  • 2 Cup Port Wine
  • 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • ¼ Cup Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp Fig Balsamic

Chili Spice Mix

  •  1 Tbsp Cumin, Ground
  • 1 ½ tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Chipotle

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Marinade Instructions

  1. In a large pot, whisk together the fresh orange juice, chardonnay, maple syrup, sea salt, bay leaves, whole cloves and black peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the brine to a large bowl. Cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator or do what I call a ‘quick cool’ by placing it the freezer for about an hour.
  2. Cut the tenderloin in half; place the two pieces in a deep baking dish and our the marinade into the over the meat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Agrodolce Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add the cumin, sweet smoked paprika, dried oregano, cinnamon and chipotle, whisk to combine and set aside for now.
  2. To a blender, add the Italian Hearts Val’s Vegetarian Pasta Sauce, the Dijon and fig balsamic; blend until pureed and set aside.
  3. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat; add the oil and swirl it around the pan. Add the minced shallots; sauté until just opaque. Add the cranberries, sauté until they being to change color and soften slightly. Pour the contents of the blender into the pot, stirring as you pour. Stir in the cranberry juice concentrate, port wine and chili spice mix.
  4. Bring the pot to a bubble, reduce the heat to simmer and allow the sauce to reduce by about half.

Loin Instructions

  1. Remove the loin from the refrigerator; transfer it to a serving platter and dry it thoroughly with paper towels. It’s imperative that the loin is bone-dry for even browning.
  2. To truss the loin: Start with a piece of kitchen twine about four times the length of the loin. Place the loin presentation side down; starting at one end, using one end of the twine, loop the twine under the loin and tie a knot on the side facing you. Imagine a line down the center of the loin length-wise. Trail the twine down that imaginary line about a half inch. Hold the twine there and loop the twine under the loin and through the piece you are holding creating an ‘H’ with the twine. Pull the twine tight and repeat this process until the entire loin is trussed; tie it off with a knot. Trussing ensures even cooking of the loin.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Preheat a large pan over high heat; add the olive oil and swirl it around the pan. Using tongs, place the loin in the pan and sear until golden on all sides. Transfer the loin to a broiler pan and place in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the meat thermometer reaches 130°F – 140°F. Any higher meat temperature will dry out this lean cut; this internal temperature will create a beautiful medium rare piece of meat.
  4. Remove the loin from the oven and cover it with a piece of tin foil to rest. Decorate a serving platter with thyme sprigs. Snip the twine off the loin; transfer it to a serving platter and spoon some of the sauce on top. Transfer the rest of the sauce to a serving bowl for the table.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

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