I’m convinced that the prices of meat cuts have more to do with popularity rather than its true value. Chicken wings used to be given for almost nothing yet now cost almost $10 for a lb. of wings at the bar. How about flank steak? That used to be the cheap “every man’s steak” but even that’s gone up in price. Today’s meat is pork tenderloin and it actually used to be expensive but lately it’s been more affordable and you should look to using this cut in your cooking more.
Let’s face it – pork tenderloin is the equivalent of chicken breast: lean/little fat, mild in flavour and a healthy protein. The down side is that it needs help with flavours as it’s lacking fat. So, opportunity abounds with pork tenderloin and today I’m adding lots of flavour in three ways: by browning the meat, serving it with an easy but flavourful mushroom sauce and finally – created a flavourful crust. The “crust” becomes a second skin to the meat and in this instance I’ve taken some dried mushrooms and ground them to a powder using an electric coffee mill I have dedicated to spices and such.
The mushroom crust is blended with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, thyme and rosemary, sea salt and some sugar. The sugar is in there so that the meat browns quicker. Pork tenderloin is not that thick and I do not want to overcook this lean meat – sugar aids in the browner and no…there’s no sweetness in the dish! The final step in this quick yet fancy and delicious dish is to make a pan sauce with drippings, onions, garlic, mushroom broth, wine and some cream at the end.
You can buy dried mushrooms at most supermarkets and they range for Cremini to exotic Morels and Porcini. For grinding, use the less expensive dried mushrooms and re-hydrate the more exotic funghi to make your flavourful broth. Dried mushrooms are an excellent flavour enhancer to your dishes and you should consider stocking some in your pantry. Look what I did hear – I made a flavourful mushroom broth with them, created a crust for pork tenderloin begging for more flavour and they enhanced my creamy mushroom sauce. Go update your shopping list!
2 pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
approx 2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of whole peppercorns
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup dried mushrooms (your choice)
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Pre-heated 400F oven
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced red onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of mushrooms (sliced Cremini plus your choice of other mushrooms
1/3 cup re-hydrated dried mushrooms
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup of mushroom stock (from re-hydrating the dried mushrooms)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- Pre-heat your oven. Place your dried mushrooms, peppercorns, coriander seeds, thyme and rosemary leaves in coffee grinder and process into a powder (you may use a mortar & pestle). Rub the pork with some olive oil and season with salt and sugar then place your ground dry mushroom mixture in a plate and roll the pork until well-coated.
- Place an oven-safe skillet on your stove-top and pre-heat your stove-top to medium-high heat and add 2-3 turns of olive oil and when hot, sear the pork tenderloin until golden on all sides. Transfer to your pre-heated oven (middle rack) and roast for 6-8 minutes then carefully remove the skillet, remove the pork from the pan and cover with foil and keep warm.
- In the same skillet, add some more oil (if needed) and add the onions and garlic over medium heat and stir and sweat for about three minutes. Add the mushrooms, some salt and stir until just browned for another couple of minutes (add more olive oil if needed). Now add the flour and stir-in for about a minute. Now add the wine, stock, thyme leaves, salt and pepper and bring up to a simmer and reduce until the sauce is thick enough to just coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes and adjust seasoning once again. Add the chopped fresh parsley into sauce and reserve.
- Cut your pork tenderloin into medallions and pour the sauce into a platter and place the the medallions on top of the sauce and serve with a rice pilaf or scalloped potatoes. A bottle of Aidarinis Xinomavro-Negoska blend from Goumenissa.
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