This one’s for you, Dad

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Despite my well-documented love of the other white meat, there’s a cut of pork I don’t often cook — tenderloin. Pigs have been put on a diet over the last 20 years and are much leaner as a result. (I’ve even read that a trimmed pork tenderloin has less saturated fat than an equal portion of skinless chicken thigh, which is easy for me to believe.) But what’s good for our hearts isn’t necessarily great for our tastebuds or enjoyment in the kitchen — the tenderloin is a little temperamental to cook these days, as the time between undercooked and shoe leather grows ever smaller.

But I needed a project this weekend, so I put my mind to cooking a tenderloin in a way that would give it some wiggle room. My sage plant has been out of control for the past couple of months and this seemed like an ideal occasion to prune it a bit, so I coated the tenderloins with a lovely sage and walnut pesto.

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Then, in a riff on one of my preferred ways to cook loin*, I wrapped them in some leftover prosciutto (remind me not to overdo it at the deli counter next time).

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They roasted for about 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 160 degrees. After resting for a few minutes, they were juicy and very, very flavorful.

To accompany the pork, I made potato croquettes seasoned with a little bit of the pesto and fried in duck fat. And, for something resembling a healthy item on our plates, we had crisp-tender boiled asparagus drizzled with lemon juice.

You may think this is an extravagantly porky meal, but you haven’t met my dad. Last Christmas, he managed to feed us four types of pork in a dish where pig wasn’t even the focus. That’s dedication, my friends. The mind, it reels. The memories, they linger. The arteries, they clog.

* I can’t find the original recipe anymore, but basically, I rub a combination of mustard, garlic, and dried sage over pork tenderloins, then wrap them in prosciutto before roasting. Very, very flavorful.

Update: I’ve found the perfect pork-in-milk recipe. 

recipes after the jump

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloins with Sage Pesto

2 pork tenderloins
8 slices prosciutto
olive oil
sage pesto, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim tenderloins of visible fat and fold thin ends under so the tenderloins are uniformly thick. This will help them cook evenly. Coat with sage pesto and set aside.

Lay out four slices of prosciutto, slightly overlapping each piece on the long side. Place pesto-coated tenderloin in the center of the prosciutto, then fold the ends over the loin to cover. Place in a roasting pan lightly coated with olive oil. Repeat the process with the second tenderloin. Rub both tenderloins with a light coating of olive oil to keep the prosciutto from drying out in the oven.

Roast for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Cover pan and allow meat to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Sage Pesto, adapted from iVillage’s Herbs Forum

I used two more garlic cloves than the recipe called for because I knew it would go well with the pork. Even on its own, I don’t think the pesto was overly garlicky, so let your taste be your guide. This pesto would be great smeared beneath the skin of chicken or turkey, too, something I’ll try once my sage plant recovers.

1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine sage, parsley, garlic, cheese, and nuts in a food processor. Process to mix. With machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and process to the desired consistency.

Potato Croquettes

2 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon sage pesto
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
duck fat, for frying

Boil potato cubes in a large pot of salted water until soft. Drain, then rest potatoes in large bowl covered with a piece of foil for 5 minutes. This steams the potatoes and turns them fluffy. Once potatoes have steamed, mash, then stir in sage pesto. Adjust seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Re-cover potatoes and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat duck fat in skillet until hot. Beat egg and milk together in a shallow bowl. Pour panko bread crumbs onto a small plate.

Form potatoes into four large patties, or into smaller ones, if you prefer. Dip both sides of the croquette into the egg wash, then into the panko before frying in hot duck fat. Flip after a few minutes, when the bottom has turned golden brown. If your patties are very thick, brown the sides as well.

4 Replies to “This one’s for you, Dad”

  1. Soaking the tenderloins in milk for an hour is what they do in Italy. It really helps with the moistness issue. Nice looking recipe…I’ll try it!

  2. Awww look what you made me do! DROOL all over my keyboard damnit!
    I can’t have anything nice around here.

    I can actually taste this meal. Seriously.

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