Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

The one thing I like even more than a really tender, mild filet for a special occasion is a pork tenderloin. Love it. Roasted, grilled, butterflied and stuffed, glazed. Whatever. Delicious.

Pork tenderloin has become terribly lean over the last however many years; pigs have been bred, ironically enough, to be not fat. The result is increasingly healthy pork; it's also increasingly tasteless and tough.

The answer is more pork. Of course.

My husband Dan has an unbelievable and totally illogical love of tiny food. Those little tiny cocktail weiners? Oh yeah. Mini-burgers? Little corndogs? Bring it. Myself: I love food wrapped in food.

So this really lights me up. Does anybody remember that episode of the Simpsons, when Moe goes on a date with one of Marge's sisters, and he tells the waiter "I want your best food stuffed with your second-best food." The waiter looks down his nose and says, "Very good, Sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos." Yeah, I'm Moe in this scenario.

Pork tenderloin comes with what's called a silverskin: it's this yucky membrane that you could hold a shotgun to and would never get tender. It's firmly attached to the tenderloin like...I don't know, like something that's attached really tightly to a tenderloin, but it's on there like white on rice. Hey, that's where I left that simile. I'm really quite a gifted writer, from what I understand, but this paragraph, so far, is just kind of awful for anything but humorous purposes. Maybe if I weren't writing in what appears to be approaching iambic pentameter.

Anyway, the easiest way to get rid of the tenderloin is to take a very sharp knife, insert it under the membrane, and gently saw back and forth, holding the knife very slightly angled upwards, with one hand (typically your right hand) while holding the hunk of meat still with your left hand. It takes a little practice, but don't leave the silverskin on.

This is really yummy, I made it a couple of years ago to celebrate when I got the job that I currently have now. Make it, and find some of the tiniest little potatoes you can find, cut them in half, boil them for 10 minutes, toss them in a very hot skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and one of butter, toss them around until they're brown and the skins are crackly and toasty, crush a clove of garlic and throw that in too and toss it around with the potatoes until it smells yummy. Salt and pepper them, then throw them on a plate with the tenderloin. Make a salad with some peppery greens like arugula and a balsalmic vinaigrette with some chopped shallots and a little pinch of sugar. Open a bottle of California pinot noir, or other dry, fruity thing that tastes delicious, turn on some Van Morrison or the soundtrack to "ThirtySomething" (yes, I know, okay? Could I possibly be a bigger yuppie? No? Alrighty then.) and celebrate something. Celebrate it being Tuesday. Whatever.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

12–14 slices bacon (1 slice for each pork medallion)
2 pork tenderloins (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each), trimmed of fat and silver skin, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Place bacon slices, slightly overlapping, in microwave-safe pie plate and cover with plastic wrap. Cook in microwave on high power until slices shrink and release about 1/2 cup fat but are neither browned nor crisp, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels until cool, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Wrap each piece of pork with 1 slice bacon and secure with 2 toothpicks where ends of bacon strip overlap, inserting toothpicks on angle and gently pushing them through to other side.

3. Season pork with pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pork cut side down and cook, without moving pieces, until well-browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn pork and brown on second side, 3 to 5 minutes more. Reduce heat to medium. Using tongs, stand each piece on its side and cook, turning pieces as necessary, until sides are well browned and internal temperature registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8 to 14 minutes. Transfer pork to platter and tent lightly with foil; let rest 5 minutes, then serve.

No comments: