Pork Loin or Tenderloin Scaloppine

Pork Loin or Tenderloin Scaloppine

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I don’t know about you, but the two weeks before a holiday are a pretty crazy time of year for me.  There’s the menu planning, the grocery shopping (I order online and Bill picks up, which ROCKS), the list double-checking, making sure the guest rooms are ready and, finally, the cooking, baking and more cooking.  And then, in the middle of this, your family actually expects you to feed them every night!  Sheez!  Some people.

My huge crowd has diminished to just the two of us and, while Bill is never, ever demanding about having a nice dinner, I feel it’s the least I can do for him.  He does so many of my jobs for me.

Before you start reading this, I need to warn you.  You’ll need to pay attention between “pork tenderloin” and “pork loin.”  They are both yummy, but they’re not the same thing, at all.  They’re from different parts of the pig.  Pork loin is a not as delicate as pork tenderloin.  Either one works for this recipe, which is easy and fast, but is still far superior to take-out or some cold cereal.  I hope this will make your evening a little easier.

This recipe originally comes from the Diva herself, Martha Stewart.  Except for substituting her pork loin for pork tenderloin, I haven’t changed a thing.  Well, I threw in equivalents if you’re using dried herbs.  I mean, not everyone has a year-round herb garden in her 3,000 square foot greenhouse, am I right?  I don’t, that’s for sure.  But we haven’t had a hard frost yet, so my herb garden was generous enough to give me fresh herbs tonight.

About an hour and a quarter before you start cooking this pork, preheat your oven to 375°.  Scrub a couple of russets, cut off their ends, pierce all over and pop ’em into the oven.  Mine take 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on their size.

Only one thing about this recipe is a pain in the neck, and that’s removing the silver skin on the pork tenderloin.  If you’re lucky, you’ve found a meat counter whose butcher has already done that for you.  You can always ask them, maybe by calling ahead?  It would be worth your time and effort.

I’ve found that, if your pork tenderloin has just come out of the freezer, it’s easier to remove the silver skin before it is completely thawed.  The firmer texture that comes with semi-frozen pork makes it easier to work with.  Likewise, if your pork tenderloin is fresh, stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  (Tip du Jour: when you’re defrosting frozen meat, pork or chicken in the microwave, make sure you remove your plastic wrap and microwave before placing your protein in a pie plate in the microwave.  Use defrost mode, leave it uncovered, and you won’t have small areas that are cooked through.)

Another Tip du Jour: When you’re working with something like Pork Baby Back Ribs, it’s easy enough to remove the silver skin in one fell swoop.  My hands are not good, so I use a pair of needle-nosed pliers for this.  Lately, I’ve been using them to peel off the stupid protective coverings that come on nearly everything these days.  My arthritis prevents me from getting a good grip on those adorable little tabs that some millenial dreamed up, that are the size of a pin-head.  So, yeah.  Needle-nosed pliers definitely belong in the kitchen drawer.

To remove the silver skin on your pork tenderloin, use a very sharp, thin knife with a long, sharp, pointed tip.  That way, you can gently get under that skin and slice it off.  Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.  Make sure your knife is super sharp.  I sharpen my knives before every use!

Come to think of it, regular pork loin would be easier.  It does have some fat on it, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have the silver skin.  Or it might be lurking underneath the fat layer.  After you’ve sliced the pork loin into “chops,” just trim the fat.  Pork loin has lots of flavor but gets more exercise than the tenderloin, so it’s a bit tougher than tenderloin.  Therefore, pounding for scaloppine is a helpful tip with pork loin.  What we’re doing with pork tenderloin is just a gentle little tap with your fingers (under plastic wrap) to make it nice and thin.

Serves 4 to 6

One pork tenderloin, about 1 ½ pounds, trimmed of silver skin

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

All-purpose flour, for dredging

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (oh, c’mon, Martha, salted is fine!), divided

1 Tbsp. salt-packed capers, rinsed

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon, dried)

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon, dried)

½ c. dry white wine (I like more sauce than this, so I’ll either use 1 cup wine or ½ c. wine and ½ c. chicken broth)

4 cups arugula, tough stems trimmed (optional)

Slice tenderloin into inch-wide slices.  Lay the slices out on the cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and then press gently with your fingertips to 3/8 inch thickness.

If you’re using pork loin, you can use all sorts of things to pound it with, once you’ve covered it in plastic wrap, including a rolling pin (as long as you wash that really well, afterward).  I have a fancy pounder, which I do love.  Because there is no such thing as too many kitchen tools, you know.  You could put it in your letter to Santa.  Check it out here on Amazon:   http://amzn.to/2zJ7uiq.  You don’t want to use one of those pounders with lots of little bumps on them – those are for tough cuts of beef.

Anyway, when your scaloppine are thin, season with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.  Transfer to a wire rack, and let stand 10 minutes.

Sauteeing ScaloppineHeat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and then add 1 Tbsp. butter and melt, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add enough slices of pork that the pan is full but there is plenty of space between each slice.  Cook until both sides are golden brown and the pork is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a serving platter and loosely cover with foil.  (You can also keep warm in a 200° oven).  Repeat with remaining pork.

Add capers and herbs and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, less than 30 seconds.

Add wine and cook until reduced by half (you may need to turn the heat up a tad, at this point).  Stir in remaining Tablespoon of butter and pour sauce over pork.  If you’d like your sauce a bit thicker, sprinkle with a small spoonful of flour and whisk in for a minute or two.

You can add arugula (I like baby spinach, instead) to platter and drizzle with olive oil.  Or throw together a salad of your choice.  Or, hell, nuke some frozen corn and call it a night.

Yank those hot potatoes out of the oven, cut in half, squish and butter, and salt and pepper.

That’s it.  A pretty nice dinner, for very little time.

Who knows, you may even manage to get in a hot bath tonight.  Lord knows, you deserve it!

p.s.  This is a great knife sharpener.  Wusthoff rocks; nearly every knife I own is one of theirs.  If you get into the habit of pulling this sharpener out of your drawer the minute you reach for your knife, your work will go much more smoothly and will be less dangerous, too.  A dull knife requires more force, which means it’s more likely to slip and cut you.  Check this out on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2hzJjON

For those of you with chickens, turns out they like pork, as well as chicken.  I am NOT suggesting you give them your good pork tenderloin.  I’m talking about the silver skin and fat trimmings.

The first time I ever saw my chickens eat meat was years ago, back when we let them free range around the property.  (This was before we discovered the downside of chickens hanging outside our french doors, getting in the house every chance they got, and leaving plenty of “calling cards” for the dogs, and us, to step into.  One time, we went out for a couple of hours.  Our front door has a weird latch, and one of the girls must not have firmly closed it, on our way out.  Anyway, when we got home, the front door was wide open and about 4 of our chickens were “roosting” (and pooping) to their hearts’ desire, all over the carpet.  Nice.).

Anyway, back then, I got a kick out of watching them, and they got along with the dogs and cats, just fine.  Trust me – I’ve never met a cat who is stupid enough to go up against a chicken.  Not with those talons.

Well, at the time, I had gotten some bones for the dogs to chew on.  They had a bit of meat on them.  Bo was minding his own business, chawing away happily, when suddenly, Henrietta (one of the chickens) marched right up and snatched the entire thing away from him.  This was a 6 inch long, heavy bone, covered in meat!  Suddenly, all of Henrietta’s girlfriends were joining her for a feast.  I felt bad for old Bo, so when I finally stopped laughing, I rescued it back for him.  It’s kind of funny, to see an 85 pound lab being submissive to a bird that weighs about 3 pounds!  Anyway, when you’re cooking your potatoes, you can throw the pork trimmings into the oven, on a pie plate.  Or nuke them, under a paper towel.  Chickens aren’t picky.

I hope I haven’t confused the hell out of you.  Just note that “pork tenderloin” and “pork loin” are NOT the same thing!  They’re both yummy, though.

Have a good night.  Vicky

And after all that, I forgot the capers.  Oh, well.  Perfection is overrated.

 

 

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