Dinner: May 18, 2010

Full disclosure: this was not last night’s dinner. It was actually from a couple of nights ago, the same night my ridiculous commute got me home very late and in a lot of pain. I’ve been trying to regroup from that since, by staying home in bed yesterday and working an abbreviated schedule today, but I keep thinking about how darned good this meal was, how simple and satisfying, and that despite everything I was up against that night, it came together in a flash.

The fussiest part was the prep, and even that wasn’t terribly taxing. I sliced a 1.5 lb. pork tenderloin into 6 relatively equal portions, pounding them thin between sheets of parchment and seasoning them well with kosher salt. I rinsed and spun some arugula dry, whisked up a quick lemon vinaigrette, shaved some radishes on my mandoline (then parked the slices in some ice water until I was ready to toss the salad so they’d stay crunchy), and then I got to work on the breading for my pork medallions.

I combined about a cup of panko with about half a cup each of freshly grated parm and roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves, scooped some AP flour onto a plate, and beat a couple of eggs. I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter with an equal amount of olive oil in our trusty iron skillet, gave the pork medallions a dip in the flour, then the egg, then the panko-parm-and-parsley mixture, then fried them in batches – just a couple of minutes per side, until they were golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of about 160.

I gave the pork medallions another sprinkle of chopped parsley as they came out of the pan, as well as a scattering of flaky sea salt. I arranged them on our plates (three medallions each), then just before serving I tossed my arugula and shaved radishes (dried well) with the lemon vinaigrette, piling big mounds of the salad on top of the pork and finishing each plate with a few generous grinds of black pepper and some shaved curls of Pecorino Romano.

We loved this particular spin, but I can’t stop thinking that this is one of those dinner templates that is endlessly adaptable, which makes it even more attractive if you’re pressed for time but still want to get a home-cooked, real-food meal on the table in well under an hour. Don’t eat pork? Substitute chicken, turkey, or veal (heck, even slabs of eggplant or meaty portabella caps might work well). Fresh out of arugula? Try mustard, mizuna – any young, peppery greens will do. And young turnips, shaved fennel, or even ribbons of asparagus or carrot would probably make a fine substitute for the radishes. Use your imagination, or what you have on hand. Most importantly, have fun with it.

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