Author Notes: This maybe old school but it is so delicious, easy and makes for a great dinner party dish. Simply put, it needs to be back in the rotation. The beauty is most of the work can be done early in the day or even the day before and all you need to do now is roast the tenderloins while your side dishes are finishing. No extra saute pans on the stove top splattering hot grease everywhere. It leaves plenty of opportunity for a glass of wine while you socialize with your friends and guests.
Lets face it. There are times to complicate things at the stove and times to not. It is ok to want to impress. You want folks to feel and recognize you went to the effort of making them a wonderful dinner and that you care enough about them to do so. At the same time if you are having close friends over what is the point if you are going to be hunkered down at the stove like it was a backyard bomb shelter and nuclear war has broken out.
If you don’t want to expend all your intellectual energy on making dinner a la minute and would like to use it to discuss something other than food then this is a good time to use your kitchen brain to its fullest. The idea is to have a plan of action for your day so you don’t end up looking like a rummied out juggler on a tight rope leaving everyone on edge waiting for you to drop the balls or worse, for you to bounce off the pavement.
On the other hand, what you don’t want to do here is make it look like you are rewarming yesterday’s leftovers. You want enough kitchen action to look busy but not so much you aren’t relaxed. It is nice for the house to be filled with some sort of wonderful food aroma other than the pear chips in the potpourri. Remember food smells are as much an aperitif as a Kir or a Manhattan so don’t pour lite.
If you work don’t have dinner guests on Friday. Why not wait until you have a free Saturday. Then on Saturday afternoon, sometime around 2 or 3 o’clock, get some home made bread or rolls into the oven. Bake them early and the smell will still be wafting around at 6 or 6:30 when the guests arrive. Don’t try to bake it while they are there. Bread just out of the oven is bad for the digestion anyway.
The next thing you want to do is get some sort of stock reducing for a simple sauce or jus. Stock is going to make the house smell like a Michelin starred restaurant and will really get the guests hungry for dinner.
Now you have three of the components for your dinner at the ready, a pre-seared entry, sauce and bread. All you need is a salad and a couple of simple, well executed sides and a dessert.
For this entree some roasted whole carrots would be great and they can roast in the oven at the same temperature as the pork which is always something to think about. Bigger than baby carrots would be good but not so big they look like you stole them from a horse farm. Add to this a green veggie of your choice and your off to the races.
Dessert is often as simple as a nice dark chocolate tasting. Spend the four to eight bucks for a couple of Mr. Good bars and be done with it. Everyone will enjoy it especially if you pair it with a drink. If that is not your thing pots de creme are a simple custard that is served cold or room temperature and can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. One of my all time favorites is Alice Water’s Marsala Creme Pots. They will rock your socks off and you will have to kick you guests out because they will want to move in.
So there you have it. Just like your cutting all your ingredients before you put a pan on the heat you should do the same for your dinner party. Plan it well and then if something does go awry you won’t be so stressed that the freak-out button gets pushed but instead will be able to handle it like it was meant to happen that way. Just like when your guest ask you what’s for dinner and and you tell them Prosciutto Crusted Pork Tenderloin with a Red Wine Jus, Roasted Candy Carrots and Sauteed Haricot Verts. They will be impressed but you will know it is as simple as pigs in a blanket. —thirschfeld
pork tenderloins, about 1 lb. each
thin prosciutto slices
12 to 14
fresh sage leaves
cup red wine
cups pork or chicken stock, home made is great or low sodium broth
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
teaspoon unsalted butter kneeded with a teaspoon of flour kept cool, this is called a beurre manie
- Place two large 12 by 12 inch pieces of plastic wrap on a counter top. Lay the prosciutto slices on the plastic wrap long ways next to each other so they overlap by a 1/4 inch. Place 3 to 4 sage leaves in a line on the prosciutto. Place a tenderloin onto the prosciutto so it is aligned with the edge closest to you. Repeat the process with the other tenderloin. Season both tenderloins with pepper. The prosciutto is salty so you may not need any salt.
- Using the plastic wrap as your handle roll the tenderloin so it wraps in the prosciutto being careful not to wrap the plastic wrap into it. Once it is wrapped then wrap it snugly in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 15 minute. The rest helps the prosciutto bond with the loin so it holds together better when you go to saute it.
- After the rest gently remove the pork from the plastic wrap. Heat a large saute pan, non-stick is not a bad choice here, over medium high heat and add enough oil to coat the pan. Toss a couple of sage leaves into the hot oil. Then sear the pork until the prosciutto is browned on all sides. this will leave the interior raw and in need of roasting. Remove them from the pan to a casserole or sheet tray. Toss the remainder of the sage leaves around the pork. Wash and clean the saute pan.
- Cook your sides, make your sauce, go to a movie or what ever but when you are ready to finish the pork preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- To make the red wine jus heat the saute pan over high heat. Add the red wine and let it reduce to a tablespoon or two. Add the stock and let it boil and reduce to half a cup. Taste it and season it as needed. Take the jus off the heat and whisk in the beurre manie put the jus back on the heat and bring the sauce to a soft boil while whisking and let it thicken. Remove it from the heat but keep the sauce warm.
- If you had the tenders in the fridge pull them out about 40 minutes before you need to start baking them. Bake them for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes. While they are resting warm your plates in the oven. Not to hot. Reheat the jus and spoon some onto the warmed plates. Slice the tenders into 1/4 inch slices and fan them out on top of the jus. Serve immediately.