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Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Orange-Rosemary Balsamic Butter

Serves: Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 to 16-ounce) pork tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces spinach, large stems removed, washed well, with water still clinging to leaves
  • ½ cup orange-rosemary balsamic butter sauce (recipe follows)


Orange-Rosemary Balsamic Butter Sauce:

Yields about ½ cup.

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot or yellow onion
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig, 4 inches long
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter in one large piece, plus 1 tablespoon if needed
  • Kosher salt


Procedures:

Pork tenderloin is one of the easiest meats to prepare and cook, and its sweet flavor and tender texture are appreciated by nearly all meat eaters. Choose good-quality natural pork, not one that’s been “enhanced” with a flavored brine—I hate the flavor and texture of those. In this dish, I like the contrast of the slightly earthy, tannic greens with the mild meat and fruity-tangy herbal sauce. You could make this same dish with turkey cutlets in place of the pork or with Swiss chard instead of spinach. If you opt for the chard, allow a bit more time for it to cook.

With a very sharp knife, trim away any patches of silver skin and big pieces of fat from the tenderloin. Cut into 1-inch thick slices. Flatten each slice lightly with the heel of your hand. Season both sides of each slice generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high, add 1 tablespoon of oil, and then add the pork. The pork should sizzle as soon as it touches the pan. If it doesn’t, wait another minute to let the pan get properly hot. If all of the pork will not fit in a single layer without crowding, use two pans or cook it in batches. Sauté the pork until nicely browned on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and finish cooking until browned on the second side and still pink in the center, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while you cook the spinach.

If there’s a lot of fat in the pan, pour it off, but don’t rinse the pan. Drop the spinach into the pan and quickly toss it around until it wilts. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and keep cooking until it’s tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Some spinach gives off a lot of water, so if it’s getting tender but is still quite wet, just pour out the excess water from the pan, pressing on the spinach with tongs or a spoon to release even more. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Arrange a nice pile of wilted spinach on each warmed plate and top with the pork medallions. Pour any accumulated pork juices over the pork and spinach, then drizzle a thick ribbon of the butter sauce (recipe below) around the base of the spinach, reserving a little of the sauce to pass at the table. Serve right away.

Orange-Rosemary Balsamic Butter Sauce :

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, orange juice, shallot, and rosemary and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally with a silicone spatula, until the liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the butter and start stirring it around in circles with a whisk, a fork, a wooden spoon, or anything that lets you “stab” the hunk of butter so that you can move it around easily. The butter will start to melt and the mixture will bubble and boil around the edges. The melted butter should look creamy, rather than melted and oily. Keep stirring and blending until almost all of the butter is incorporated, then remove the pan from the heat as you work in the last bit.

Remove and discard the rosemary sprig (squeegee the sauce off it with your fingers so you don’t lose a drop) and whisk in ¼ teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. If the sauce is still very sharp, whisk in another ½ tablespoon cold butter.

For a perfectly smooth sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. If you are okay with the shallot, serve as is. Sauce is best served fresh.

Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen

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