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Ah, the juniper berry. It’s a bit of a mystery in the culinary world and what complicates it more is it’s not a berry at all.
It’s a female seed cone of the juniper tree, of which there are many species. The juniper berry is round and fleshy, and does look very much like, well, a berry.
Traditionally chefs have used juniper berry in cooking game meats like wild boar to mask it’s gamey flavor with the juniper berry’s evergreen, citrusy, and peppery flavor.
If you drink gin then you are most certainly acquainted with these small, bluish berries because juniper berry is a central ingredient in gin. In fact, it can’t be called gin unless juniper berry is on the ingredient list. An ages old drink, the word gin is a derivative of the original drink distilled in Belgium and the Netherlands, Jenever.
Beyond cooking game meat and making gin not much attention has been paid to this cone-berry.
It’s time to change that.
Making Cooking With Juniper Berry a Staple In Your Kitchen
Add cooking with juniper berry to your repertoire.
It pairs wonderfully with pork, salmon, beef, lamb, and duck. I’ve used my Jolly Juniper seasoning on roasted cod and that simple dish made me want to stand up and do the happy dance.
Juniper berry is used extensively in French Alsace, German, and Norwegian cookery so think ham, cabbage, sauerkraut, and apples to name a few.
Juniper Berry Pork Tenderloin
Here’s an easy way to get started cooking with juniper berry: Juniper Berry Crusted Pork Tenderloin.
Sprinkle a pork tenderloin with kosher salt, roll it in the Jolly Juniper seasoning, lay it on a sheet tray, and drizzle it with olive oil. Into the oven it goes at 425˚F. Twenty-five minutes later you have yourself a delightful meal. Slice it and serve it with a homemade tomato jam that you can easily make while the pork roasts. Serve all of this deliciousness over polenta. What a meal.
Or roast the pork tenderloin, slice it and make pork tenderloin sliders slathered with Dijon mustard with a simple salad on the side.
As my philosophy is always cook once, eat twice, this pork tenderloin is delicious hot or cold so make some extra for leftovers the next day or later in the week.
It’s time to get cooking with juniper berry.
Juniper Berry Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin spiced with Chef Sandra’s Jolly Juniper seasoning takes center stage in this beautiful and delicious dish. It’s served over parmesan polenta with thyme and rosemary, and topped with a savory tomato and sweet pepper jam.
- 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
- 1 packet Jolly Juniper seasoning
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 4 oz Roma tomatoes, roughly diced (1–2 tomatoes, depending on size)
- 1 mini bell pepper (any color)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 2 teaspoons fresh, if you have it)
- 1 lemon
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- Heat oven to 425˚F.
- Pour the Jolly Juniper seasoning on a sheet tray.
- Roll the pork tenderloin on a clean sheet tray and season with kosher salt.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Place the tenderloin in the oven for 25 minutes or until internal temp reaches 145˚F.
- Slice on the bias and serve over polenta with the savory tomato jam as a garnish.
- Heat a small sauce pan or sauté pan over medium heat.
- When the pan is hot, add a small amount of olive oil to very lightly coat the bottom of the pan and give it a swirl.
- Add the onions to the pan. Reduce the heat and sweat the onions until they turn translucent.
- Add the bell pepper and the garlic to the pan.
- Sauté a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and the water.
- Sauté until the mixture has thickened.
- Taste and season with kosher salt.
- Add the red pepper flakes and the parsley.
- Zest the lemon into the mixture and add a splash of fresh lemon juice.
- Taste and season again, if needed.