Erlangen, the city I live in, is quite unique due to its huge grassland right in the middle of the city. During spring and summer a herd of sheeps is grazing, some parcels are used for wheat or corn production and of course the wonderful grass is regularly collected as animal food for the winter. Every morning on my way to work I ride my bike through this peaceful nature. Right at the outskirts I pass a small lake with giant elderberry bushes. In spring they are almost completely white and full of elderflowers. Now, at the end of summer the bushes turn black from the bending branches of tons of ripe elderberries. Unfortunately most of them are pretty high up and unreachable even with a ladder – but I managed to collect some for a fresh and simple elderberry sauce.
While passing the elderberry bushes, the idea came to my mind that they might pair well with corn. Building further on this idea I remembered a mango polenta I prepared years ago from a cookbook by German celebrity chef Alexander Herrmann. I wanted to stick to seasonal produce, so I switched the mango to peach, which paired perfectly both with the polenta and the elderberries. Originally I planned to grill a duck breast, but my poulterer is currently on holiday so I switched to pork, which pairs very well with fruits and sweet components too. The final result turned out as a simple and wonderful late summer dish created from ingredients only that are in season right now.
Pork Fillet with Elderberry Sauce and Peach Polenta
- 400 g pork fillet
- 100 ml pork or veal stock
- 8-10 sprigs thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- 60 g polenta
- 1 shallot
- 1 peach
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp fresh black elderberries
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
For the pork
Remove the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 90°C / 195 F. Trim off any excess fat or sinews from the pork fillet and cut in half. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil in a hot pan and sear the fillets from all sides until nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and the crushed garlic clove. Transfer thyme to a plate, put the fillets on it and leave for 50 minutes in a 90°C / 195 F hot oven.
Meanwhile add 100 ml pork stock to the pan and scrape off the caramelized parts. Reduce to half and season with salt and pepper. Glaze the pork fillets every 10 minutes with the reduced stock. When there's no stock left in the pan, continue glazing the fillets with the sauce beneath them.
For the polenta
Peel the peach, discard the stone and puree the flesh. Finely dice the shallot and sweat in 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the hot vegetable stock, the peach puree and the polenta. Stir well, reduce the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Before serving, stir in the grated parmesan and 1 tbsp butter. Season with salt and pepper.
For the elderberry sauce
Prepare just before serving the dish.
Wash the elderberries and pick them off their stems. Caramelize 1 tbsp sugar in a small pan until golden brown, add 1 tbsp butter and the elderberries. Add 3-4 tbsp from the sauce beneath the pork fillets. Reduce the heat and let gently simmer until the consistency gets slightly sirup-like. Season with salt and pepper.
Place 4-5 tbsp polenta on preheated plates. Put a pork fillet on top of it and sprinkle with the jus from the plate. Pour over the elderberry sauce and garnish with a thyme sprig.