Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 24 - Sautéed Pork Medallions and How to Make Pork Medallions

Just in case you might think I'm an observant Jew because of my Matzo Ball Soup from yesterday, today's meal ought to dispel any false impressions: Pork for Passover!

I've been eying this recipe for a while. It seemed simple yet delicious. And although I've been a bacon-lover all my life, I have very little experience with "the other white meat."

Buying a pork tenderloin feels like a sort of rite of passage. Pork tenderloin isn't something you pick up for the heck if it. Even a steak can be a casual supermarket buy. "I'll just throw it in a pan and see what happens." But when you buy a pork tenderloin, you'd better have some plans. Which I did.

How to Make Pork Medallions (p. 115)

First stop on the road to this dish is turning the tenderloin into medallions. There was a small amount of clean up involved, removing the "silver" skin-like stuff and trimming a bit of fat, but this meat is amazingly lean. Then, it's just about slicing and pounding, and this meat is so malleable that all one need do is smush it with one's palm between two pieces of plastic wrap. So easy, and sort of fun. Why haven't I ever tried this before?

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Sautéed Pork Medallions (p. 256)

Once started, the cooking of this dish happens rather quickly, so like a good little cook, I had all my tools and ingredients laid out, pre-measured, and ready to go. The spatter factor is a big issue when cooking the medallions (in olive oil). I'm guessing there's no way around it, so just embrace the mess and know that a complete stove-top clean-up is in your future.

The medallions cooked easily in two batches. I think my medallions might have been a little thicker than prescribed. (Martha suggests between 1/8 to 1/4 inch, and I'm guessing mine were closer to 1/3. Am I crazy or did they puff up in the refrigerator waiting to be used? I thought I had made them thinner...)

Once the pork is cooked, the sauce gets made. Into the pan goes butter, thinly sliced shallots, raisins, and diced apple. (Marcy was very impressed with my "perfect" dice.) Here's the part where I get confused, because this stuff often takes me longer than Martha thinks it should. I wonder if my heat levels are off. She thought the apple should get brown and tender in four minutes, and it took almost double that, with me raising the temperature bit by bit. I used a Fuji apple, which I've noticed takes quite a beating before it starts to break down, so that might be an explanation....

The pan deglazed so easily, maybe even too easily. I used my stainless steel stick pan, i.e. not a non-stick pan, so I thought I'd get some crazy bits, but turns out stainless steel isn't that sticky either. (Deglazing is using liquid to dissolve the browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking something, in this case, the pork. The bits are very flavorful, and you want to dissolve them and incorporate them into the sauce. Smart, right?)

Once the apples were cooked to my satisfaction, I added the brandy (again, took twice as long to reduce as Martha predicted) and then, the cream (also, twice as long to thicken), and finally it ended with the sage "ribbons" and the S+P 500 to taste.

Marcy, who is the least likely person to take to this dish, was really into it! As was I. It was delicious. Creamy, yet light. Sweet and savory, my favorite combination. Unlike my mother, I love meat dishes that incorporate fruit.

The pork was cooked just right, perfectly tender and slightly browned. And the sauce is a Martha special, in that it reveals itself in layers: the brandy a far-off but important note, the sage bright and dominant, the shallots tangy, the fruit sweet, and the cream smooth.

While I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured this dish, I don't think this will become a regular in my repertoire. Though it is delicious and light for a creamy dish, there's something in my DNA that still says cream sauce is a no-no. I am, however, interested in the possibilities of pork. And I'm looking forward to tackling the other pork recipes to come!

Jeff: A- half a grade off for confusion around the temperatures and thickening time
Martha: A

Until we eat again....


  1. Tonight I did a four-award and a three-award recipe! Indian-spiced split pea soup and roasted carrots (because we had some aging carrots in the fridge). Success, oh sensei.

  2. Go Annie! Did the soup work without garlic?

  3. It did. I doubled up on the onion. Also - forgive me - I put a little less salt than Martha required. Charles has a theory that people can always add salt. Funnily, I added salt to mine but Charles, a saltophile, thought it was perfect as is. Upstairs Jeff absolutely loved it as well, no more added salt, and he thought it was probably better with double onion and no garlic.
    When I asked Charles for a final review, he said it was probably the best soup he ever had. I theorize that, now that I've started cooking a bit after 40 years of him doing it all, my efforts have an added glow for him. But I agree, it was delicious!