FOOD DAY / WEDNESDAY / COOKING CLASS / PORK TENDERLOIN

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TODAY'S LESSON, pork

tenderloin with mushroom

sauce, will focus on

searing and roasting

meat.

A searing-roasting

combination is perfect for a

small, tender piece of meat

such as a pork tenderloin.

First the meat is browned

quickly on all sides at a

high heat, then it is

roasted. The combination

gives the meat a nice

brown crust, which it

would not otherwise

have from its short

roasting time.

This technique works

well for any small piece

of meat, such as a veal or

beef tenderloin.

To accompany the pork,

we make a sauce from

inexpensive button

mushrooms. (For veal or beef

tenderloin, you may want to

use the more-exotic porcini or

morels.) The mushrooms are cut

into wedges, not sliced, to retain

their texture and taste. They are

then cooked over a high heat with

just a sprinkle of oil, which keeps

them from losing their liquid. This

sauce is also a nice accompaniment to

steak or hamburgers. Serve this recipe

with your favorite steamed vegetable and

rice or boiled potatoes.

THERMOMETERS

A digital meat thermometer with a probe is an investment (as much as $35), but

it takes the guesswork out of roasting meat, especially a small tenderloin,

which does not take well to overcooking.

Before you put the meat in the oven, insert the probe into the center. Then

connect the wire that attaches to the probe to the thermometer, which sits on

top of your oven. You can watch the temperature of the meat without having to

open the oven and lose heat.

Instant-read thermometers are less expensive (about $10) but provide more

approximate readings. When roasting a small, tender piece of meat for a short

time, a precise reading is extremely important.

CUTTING, TRIMMING AND SEARING

Cutting the mushrooms: Cut the mushrooms into wedges of equal size; cut small

mushrooms into quarters, larger ones into sixths.

Trimming the pork: Remove and discard the whitish-silver skin and any

visible fat. Remove the flat, narrow tip of meat from each end of the

tenderloin; reserve it for another use, such as a stir-fry.

Searing the pork: Put the meat in the hot oil in the pan and don't touch it

for 2 minutes. If you move the meat before this time, you will destroy the

crust that you want to achieve with the searing process. Think of these

tenderloins as 4-sided (unlike a steak, which is 2-sided). You can prop the

pieces of meat against each other to sear the long narrow sides. Use tongs to

turn.

WINE SUGGESTION

This recipe pairs well with a single village Beaujolais (such as a

Moulin-a-Vent), a Cotes-du-Rhone or a California blend - nothing overly

sophisticated.

RECIPES

Pork Tenderloin With Mushroom Sauce

For the mushroom sauce:

1 pound white button mushrooms

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 plum (Roma) tomato, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) chopped pine nuts, walnuts or pecans, toasted

(optional; see note)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/3 cup dry sherry, dry white wine or vermouth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

For the pork:

2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total), trimmed and halved crosswise

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Clean the mushrooms (brush away any loose dirt and, if necessary, dab

them with a damp towel to remove any remaining dirt). Do not rinse or soak the

mushrooms. Trim and discard the tough bottoms of the mushroom stems but keep

any part of the stem that is still tender. Cut the mushrooms into wedges.

2. Have a baking sheet or platter ready. Heat a large skillet over high

heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add a couple of mushrooms to the skillet. The

mushrooms should immediately sizzle; if this does not occur, heat the skillet

for another minute. Add the mushrooms to the skillet (do not crowd; you may

have to cook in batches). Drizzle the mushrooms with the oil. (If you add the

oil first, the mushrooms will soak up the oil and lose their texture.) Cook,

shaking the pan occasionally to keep the mushrooms from sticking, until golden

brown, about 3 minutes. If the mushrooms render liquid, the pan is not hot

enough - the heat is too low or the pan is too crowded.

3. Add the shallot or garlic and cook until it becomes transparent, about 1

minute. Remove the skillet from the heat; season the mushrooms with salt and

pepper to taste. (If you add the salt too soon, the mushrooms will render their

liquid and lose their texture.) Immediately transfer the mushrooms to the

baking sheet or platter to keep them from overcooking and set aside. Set the

skillet aside; do not wash it.

4. For the pork: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, trim

the tenderloins.

5. Cut the two tenderloins in half across the middle. Ideally, you should

have 4 pieces of meat of equal size that will fit in an ovenproof skillet in

which they are neither crowded nor have too much space around them. Season the

tenderloins with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Heat the ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add

the oil. If the oil smokes or burns, the heat is too high. Using tongs,

carefully add the pork to the skillet. Sear the meat, untouched, for 2 minutes.

Turn the meat and sear on remaining three sides until brown, about 2 minutes

per side.

7. Transfer the tenderloin to the preheated oven and roast for 8 to 12

minutes. A meat thermometer inserted in the middle of the tenderloin should

register 155 degrees. Transfer the 4 tenderloins to a wire rack and place a

platter underneath to catch the juices. Set the skillet aside; do not wash it.

8. Let the pork rest, uncovered, for one-third of its roasting time before

you slice it. (The meat will continue to cook; its inner temperature should

rise to 160 degrees.) To finish the sauce and pork, have ready the tomato,

nuts, if using, and parsley.

9. Add the sherry, wine or vermouth to the skillet in which the pork was

roasted. (Remember: The handle of this pan will still be very hot.) Place the

skillet over medium heat and cook, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any meat

and dissolve any juices stuck to the pan (this is called deglazing), for 2

minutes. Pour the wine mixture into the skillet in which the mushrooms were

cooked and repeat the deglazing process, cooking for 1 minute.

10. Return the mushrooms to the skillet and add the tomato and toasted nuts

and heat for about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, if

using, and stir until incorporated into the sauce. Taste and correct the

seasoning accordingly, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

11. Slice the tenderloins 1/2 inch thick. Add the juice that has collected

from the meat to the mushroom sauce.

12. To serve, spoon some of the mushroom sauce in the center of each dinner

plate and arrange the meat on top of the sauce or fan the slices of meat

around the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet, place them in a

350-degree oven and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, 8 to

10 minutes. Watch carefully, because nuts burn very quickly.

For each serving: 423 calories; 58 g. protein; 6 g. carbohydrates; 16 g.

fat; 134 mg. cholesterol; 3 g. saturated fat; 260 mg. sodium; 1 g. dietary

fiber.

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