Southern cooking expert Nathalie Dupree says that without a doubt, this is her favorite manner of cooking tenderloin. It is simple, is easily modified to give a little variety, goes extraordinarily well on a biscuit for breakfast or lunch, and is moist and juicy. This recipe was in her 1986 cookbook "New Southern Cooking" and has always been popular.
The variations for sauces and accompaniments are all options that Dupree likes to use. Another one she showed us during the Chef on Call session: Place thin slices of cheese atop the slices in the pan after they are finished cooking.
Servings: 2 - 3
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Remove the silver skin and any membranes or fat from the tenderloin; reserve the meat scraps for a pan sauce with vegetables (see quick stock variation, below). Cut the meat on the diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces. Season all over with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the mixture starts to sizzle, add the pork pieces. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned; the meat will be springy to the touch. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil; serve hot.
VARIATIONS (make while the meat is resting)
Flavored milk stock: Add bits and pieces as you would a quick stock (see variation) -- anything in your refrigerator you think would enhance the flavor. Even onion skins can be used to flavor and color the milk. Combine 1 to 2 cups whole or low-fat milk, 1 slice each of onion, carrot and fennel bulb, a parsley sprig or other fresh herb, plus whole black peppercorns, as desired, in a medium saucepan over medium heat until barely bubbling at the edges. Remove from the heat and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate. Strain before using; use as a base for white sauce (see accompanying box).
Wilted spinach: With the skillet still over medium-high heat, add a few cups of pre-washed baby spinach leaves to the skillet and stir to lightly coat in the meat juices (this also can be done with the meat still in the skillet). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook/steam just until wilted. Serve with the meat.
Coca-Cola sauce: Add 12 ounces of Coca-Cola (not Diet Coke) to the meat juices in the hot skillet, still over medium-high heat. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to dislodge any browned bits; stir to mix well. Boil for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup; add any juices that have collected from the resting meat. Remove from the heat and add the meat to the skillet, turning to coat evenly. Serve hot.
Pepper jelly sauce: Add 4 to 8 ounces of hot-pepper jelly to the meat juices in the hot skillet, still over medium-high heat. Stir to mix well for several minutes; let the jelly melt down into a sauce. Add any juices that have collected from the resting meat. Serve with the meat.
Simple cream sauce: Add 1/3 cup white wine, vermouth, Madeira or Marsala to the meat juices in the hot skillet, still over medium-high heat. Boil down slightly for 2 to 4 minutes, then add 2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream. Stir to mix well, scraping the bottom of the skillet to dislodge any browned bits; bring to a boil and cook until reduced to a thickened sauce. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. (To make a mustard cream sauce, whisk in 1 or 2 tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard.) Serve with the meat.
Sauteed onion: Cut 1 medium onion into thin slices and add to the meat juices in the hot skillet, still over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened and light brown. Serve with the meat.
Sweated vegetables: This is handy because it uses small amounts of 3 vegetables and can stand in when green vegetables are not available. Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add 1 thinly sliced medium onion, 1 thinly sliced medium carrot (cut crosswise) and 1 thinly sliced celery stalk. Reserve any leftover bits of vegetable to make a mirepoix; see below. (Small amounts of sliced apples, pears or other fruit may be added along with the vegetables.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low; cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until juices have been released and the vegetables are tender. Add a small handful of herbs, as desired, and any collected juices from the resting meat; mix well. Serve with the meat.
Leftover vegetable mirepoix: Cut any leftover bits of onion, carrot, celery, etc., into 1/4-inch pieces. Add to the meat juices in the hot skillet, still over medium-high heat. Cook briefly, just until the vegetables pick up some color and flavor. Use this in a quick stock (see below); or place under the pork tenderloin while it is roasting; or use to flavor a white sauce if flavored milk is not available, making sure to strain the sauce before serving.
Quick stock: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the reserved meat trimmings and cook, stirring, until browned. Add leftover vegetable mirepoix (see above), if desired, for extra flavor. Add water as needed and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for as long as possible (15 to 20 minutes). Strain before using.
From cookbook author Nathalie Dupree.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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