My husband scoffs at the idea of comfort food — to the point where if I even see that phrase, I can hear him sardonically asking what foods actually make people uncomfortable. This would be a better point except that a few foods have been known to make me extremely uncomfortable, like brains, fish heads and the occasional mushroom. I, on the other hand, love comfort food — dishes like beef stroganoff or chicken casserole that make you feel warm and happy are eternally appealing to me.
So it should come as no surprise that I was mesmerized by this recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine. It was actually part of a small collection on paillards (basically a fancy term for cutlets). I tore out that whole section so fast I’m surprised I didn’t get a paper cut. There was a recipe for chicken paillards with lemon and butter and another one involving veal and sherry. But the first one that I was determined to try was the pork. It was something about the sour cream sauce that did me in.
First comes the pork tenderloin, cut into medallions and pounded thin. I may be married to a chef and own a ton of kitchen utensils, but I have never owned a meat pounder. Luckily I have a small very heavy sauté pan that does the job just fine. A word of advice though — do not pound your meat late at night when it could disturb your neighbors…or early in the morning for that matter. Meat pounding can be loud and you don’t want to have to avoid eye contact the next time you take your trash to the curb. Unless you don’t like your neighbors, of course — in that case feel free to pound away at all hours.
Okay, enough of that — back to the pork.
Sear the cutlets until they are a dark golden brown — the crust is where the flavor is. Just make sure you don’t over cook them, you’ll want them still pink in the center. Once they are finished, put them on a plate and cover in foil. Now it’s time for the sauce.
This is where it can get a bit tricky. The thing is this is not a complicated dish. It’s the coordination that can make it annoying. You should have your noodles already cooked, but by this point they’ve probably cooled down just enough to make you want to heat them back up. It’s seriously times like this that I miss being in a professional kitchen, where you’d have your pasta water on a rolling boil ready to give your cooked noodles a quick dunk. The pork is resting, which is good, but cuts of meat that thin will cool down pretty quickly. There’s also the sauce and any other vegetables you may be cooking — unless you’re fine with just meat and noodles. No judgement here. You don’t see any greens on my plate, do you?
Basically it’s a simple meal with fairly little prep or time commitment, but with an intense ten minutes of scrambling around doing the finishing touches. My plan of attack is to dump the noodles in a large sauté pan with some melted butter while I reduce the sauce. This is probably where I should tell you to be generous when making the sauce — better too much than too little and I always find myself scraping up every last bit from the pan.
The good thing is once you sit down to eat this, you will be happy you went through the effort. The pork should be fork tender and the sauce tangy, with the parsley in the noodles helping to freshen the flavors. It’s a perfect dinner for one or two people. I tend to make this when I’m the only one home, saving a plate for my husband when he gets off work. Who wouldn’t want to come home to this?
Another benefit is that you will hopefully still have some pork tenderloin left over. In which case please make this and tell me how it is. It’s another recipe in my folder I’ve been meaning to get around to.