Sometimes you can’t quite imagine the complexity of a dish by reading the recipe…even when you work at it. This was one of those. I admit, the oven temp of 425º really put me off while it was over 105º outside, but it wasn’t on very long…45 minutes tops, including pre-heating. And it was so very worth it. This dish just kept bringing surprises to the tastebuds and to the tongue in the way of textures.
This is basically a very uncomplicated dish with lots of little bits and pieces to do. I think it’s time to either shake this house until I find my scale (originally gotten to weigh my pet corns***e, instead used to weigh baby chinchillas-NOT sn*** food!!). This recipe called for ounces of things. I know Alton Brown says the only way to bake properly is by weight…and I’ll bet I know why… Either way, I needed the weigh the carrots, leeks, celery, turnips (withheld due to convenient memory loss), and mushrooms (substituted due to inconvenient memory loss). I also neglected to buy small waxy potatoes. All I had in the house were large russets, which I cut into chunks and “tournéd” dutifully, albeit not 100% successfully. I did end up with some relatively same sized little barrels, some of which actually did have 7 (woo-hoo!!) sides. I know I spent a lot more time on mise en place, than I did on actual cooking. For my dark beer, I selected an Oatmeal Stout from an in-state micro-brewery. California has lots of little micro-brew pubs that are fabulous. I have to recommend doing all the mise en place with this recipe. Once you get started with the pork, it all goes very quickly, maybe 30 minutes cooking time tops. Please note, I halved the recipe as much as I possibly could, and it worked pretty well!!
This would have been a good spot for a shot of the pork, nicely browned, just before it went to the oven. I used a cast iron skillet, since it would hold heat nicely, disperse it evenly, and go in and out of the oven with ease. The pork browned off nicely while my potatoes were simmering on the back burner. The pork would be 15 minutes roasting, and the potatoes need to simmer 10 minutes then set until needed. My first glitch hit when I realized my hubby had set the oven for 200º when he lit it for me (yeah, I know, they make ranges that will light themselves, which this was once upon a time…it WAS on the priority list until I HAD to buy a new fridge). Oh well…heat down on the stove top, heat up in the oven, brown a little bit more, and it will balance out. The cast iron holds heat long enough for the oven to catch up. We need the roasting pan for finishing the dish, but we can start the sauce now.
Combine the vinegar and the sugar…what a fragrant start this is! At this point, the sauce doesn’t belie what cuisine we’re cooking…it could be Asian…German…French…Californian… I was afraid I’d over-cooked this phase. The sugar reached an amber color just as the vinegar evaporated leaving me with a pot with an amber sugar sculpture in the bottom! Bring on the beer! It didn’t sputter as much as I anticipated, but it sure did foam! The next steps involved reducing the sauce ingredients as they were added, taking the pork from the oven to rest briefly before reintroducing it to the cooking pan, now filed with a julienne of carrots, leeks and celery (and well washed and drained canned mushrooms). If nothing else, this dish fills the air with aromas that will have your audience filled with anticipation.
Voila! Mignons de Porc Arlonaise! The pork is so tender and full of flavor that this could easily be a special occasion dish, and yet it’s pretty straight forward and forthright. There’s a little prep, but no baby sitting. It’s kind of all right there. The sauce makes this dish. This was our photo plate, and the sauce doesn’t show up well (and wouldn’t have on any plate I looked at save one and that one washed out the appearance of the pork), so I served up some sauce on the side as well.
This shot pretty much says it all. All gone. Every bit of it. I cut it back to 3 servings, and every morsel with away. Yes, Jasmine (sheltie cross) got her share. No veggies (leeks included), but she enjoyed her nibble of the pork medallions. This is a serious “keeper” recipe. Kayte mentioned perhaps a holiday meal…I’d agree. Another success from Le Cordon Bleu at Home!
*Editor’s note….Yes, that’s a can of Little Friskies cat food on the back of the island; no, it was not included in the dish we prepared. I don’t know why it was still there. It simply was, and I’m not photographer enough to see “everything” in my shot. I’m a Foodie, what can I say…!