Saturday, September 3, 2011

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is an essential staple in my galley. It is the little black dress of entrees, simple but ready to be dressed up or down with accessories depending on the occasion, the accompaniments and the preparation. That comparison occurred to me as I planned a company dinner with no time to shop and limited provisions on board. There’s always a package of pork tenderloin in my refrigerator or freezer; I just needed to find the right accessories to glam it up a bit.

For just the two of us I might slice a few chops off a tenderloin, pound them thin and prepare them piccata-style. When rushed, I’ve cut tenderloin into large chunks and done a quick simmer in a poblano, tomatillo and onion salsa verde. Lemon, garlic and rosemary marinated tenderloins were a hit at an impromptu dock dinner. Mmmm, a quick sear in a cast iron skillet followed by a fast blast in a 450 F oven made magic with that entrée. When simply roasted, then finished with a pan sauce, pork tenderloin can be a versatile weeknight entree.

But there was no plain pork served that night. Oh no, I found a package of prosciutto in the freezer, just the thing to make the entrée (and the cook) look good. The end-of-the-season herb garden still held some sage, and a tempting assortment of mustards filled a referigerator door rack. Spicy honey mustard would complement the sage flavor and would also serve to hold the prosciutto wrapping in place during cooking. I was ready to rock and roll with a prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin.

It really was tasty, the four of us ate most of two tenderloin strips. How can a recipe with only four ingredients and minimal hands-on preparation result in such a delicious entrée? The comparison worked - it was similar to adding pearls and heels to the aforementioned little black dress; less is more.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Serves 3-4

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
1-2 tablespoons honey dijon mustard
handful of fresh sage leaves
1 package (6 slices) prosciutto

·      Preheat the oven to 450 F.
·      Spread the prosciutto pieces out on a cutting board, overlapping slightly, forming a base big enough to wrap the pork.
·      Slather the mustard over the tenderloin; tuck the skinny end under to make a uniform-width log of meat.
·      Place the tenderloin on top of the prosciutto and scatter the sage leaves over the top. Wrap the prosciutto slices over the tenderloin, tucking the ends in to make a neat package.
·      Place the wrapped meat on a rack inside a shallow pan. Insert a meat thermometer, put the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes.
·      Carefully turn the tenderloin over (to crisp up the bottom) and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
·      Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-7 minutes. Slice half-inch pieces and serve immediately. 

Any leftover tenderloin, thinly sliced, makes an awesome panini when layered with brie, chopped pecans, sliced pear and a bit of chutney. Use a hearty artisan bread, maybe a bit of arugula, toast and you have a dynamite sandwich. It’s reason enough to roast a pork tenderloin!

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