Here’s a quick, easy and delicious weeknight entree that’s certain to impress your family. The star of the show is pork tenderloin, the leanest and most tender part of the animal. Like beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin is a muscle cushioned by other muscles. It’s tender because it’s not used very much. I prefer it hands-down to pork loin, which is prone to cook up dry and tough.
Pork tenderloin is a narrow cylinder of meat, usually weighing between 1 to 1 1/4 pounds. For this recipe it’s cut crosswise into rounds (or medallions). These medallions would be kind of puny if you cut the tenderloin straight down because it’s only about 2 inches in diameter. Here, though, we slice it at a 45-degree angle into rounds that are around 3 inches in diameter.
Tender as it is, tenderloin will dry out if it’s overcooked. This recipe arms you with two ways to guard against it. First, dip the medallions in flour before browning them. Second, brown the meat very quickly, just one minute per side. (Make sure your pan is good and hot before adding the meat.) The flour not only furnishes the meat with a protective outer coating, it also helps thicken the sauce when the meat is returned to the pan at the end of the recipe. And the quick browning leaves the pork extra-pink inside, which makes it that much harder to overcook afterward.
The grapes are the surprise ingredient here. Much as we love grapes straight off the vine, a cooked grape is one in which the flavor has been concentrated. In effect, it becomes grape-ier. Once you’ve tasted the cooked grapes in this recipe, you may find yourself adding them to other savory sauces. Try them with sauteed chicken and see for yourself.
Sauteed Pork Medallions with Grape Sauce
Start to finish: 40 minutes (20 active)
1 pork tenderloin (about 1-1¼ pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup Wondra or all-purpose flour
¼ cup minced shallots or onion
1 cup red or yellow seedless grapes or a mix, halved
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
Slice the pork diagonally at a 45-degree angle into 7 to 8 pieces, each about ¾- to 1-inch thick. Don’t worry if the pieces are not all the same size. Just make sure they are all the same thickness.
In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, season half the pork medallions on both sides with salt and pepper and then dip them in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add them to the skillet and brown them quickly, about 1 minute a side, transferring them to a plate when they are done. Repeat the procedure with the remaining pork, flour and oil.
Add the shallots to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the shallots, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the grapes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits and simmer the wine until it is reduced to about ¼ cup. Add the chicken broth and sugar and simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard. Return the pork and any juice from the plate to the skillet and simmer gently, turning the medallions, several times, for 2 minutes. Divide the pork medallions among 4 plates and spoon some of the sauce over each portion.
Nutrition information per serving: 382 calories; 124 calories from fat; 14 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 92 mg cholesterol; 360 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 33 g protein.
Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “HomeCooking 101.”