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