julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Love Me Tender(loin)

 

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“I wouldn’t keep (my husband) around long if I didn’t feed him well.” – Julia Child

Last night’s meal was really good…but it was also kind of confusing. To be honest, I’m surprised it turned out tasting as good as it did. One of our favorite things to make is pork tenderloin – I usually wrap it in bacon, cover it with olive oil and pop it in the oven until it’s done. Add a little au jus, and mmmmm, boy! It’s gooood! So when I saw that Julia Child had a recipe for pork tenderloin, we were all over it.

Porc Sylvie (pork stuffed with cheese) seemed easy enough – pork loin stuffed with Swiss cheese. And while I had to roll my eyes a little at the use of Swiss cheese yet again, I knew this would taste good in the end. The confusion came when I noticed Julia’s instructions to follow the recipe for a veal dish mentioned earlier in MtAoFC, omitting an ingredient here and switching to a different marinade there. This recipe left room for some interpretation…including how to initially cut the meat.

But let’s back up. For starters, I was supposed to have marinated the pork loin overnight. And I didn’t. Oops. I mixed the Marinade Seche (salt marinade with herbs and spices) and rubbed it into the loin. I then scraped most of it off, per Julia’s instructions, dried the meat with some paper towels, and set it onto my cutting board.

Cheese stuffed tenderloin

Now, at this point, Julia says to cut the pork lengthwise from the top to almost the bottom, making 3 or 4 “leaves” like a book. Instead of cutting the meat so that the back side was like the binding of the book, I cut it so that the bottom of the loin was still in one piece. As soon as I finished cutting the meat, it suddenly occurred to me what she meant, but at that point it was too late. And really, what difference could it possibly make? I laid slices of Swiss cheese between the “leaves” then tied the meat with butcher’s twine to hold it all together.

I sauteed some carrots and onion slices in a mixture of oil and butter, then added the tenderloin to brown the bottom. I basted the meat with the butter/oil from the pan, then put the whole thing, uncovered, in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, basting it every five.

Rinsing the green beans

At the end of the 15 minutes, I turned the heat down to 325, added a little lemon juice to the sauce in the pan and brought it to a boil on the stove, then covered the pan with foil and set it in the bottom third of the oven for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I began working on our Haricots Verts a la Creme (creamed green beans). I trimmed and washed about a pound of green beans, then tossed them into a pot of boiling salted water. When I could tell they were within minutes of becoming tender, I drained them and put them into a pan over high heat to evaporate their moisture. I added some salt, pepper and a little bit of butter to the pan, then poured in a cup of whipping cream. I covered the pan and boiled it for a little over five minutes, making sure to give it a stir every now and then to avoid the catastrophe I had with the creamed spinach.

Ready for the oven

Going back to the meat, in following the instructions for the veal dish, I was supposed to cook the meat for 2 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer told me the meat had reached 175 degrees. I checked the pork at 30 minutes and, while the meat thermometer told me it was ready, the pork didn’t look as though it had cooked thoroughly. So I popped it in for another ten minutes or so, and ultimately decided to call it good.

I pulled the pan out of the oven and moved the tenderloin to a cutting board. After removing the butcher’s twine, I cut the meat in crosswise slices so each piece had cheese in it. A scoop of creamed green beans and a half-ear of corn on the cob finished the meal. I was a little worried that the meat would turn out dry, since I hadn’t used a liquid marinade, so I made a side of packaged au jus sauce.

Looks gooood!

As it turned out, the au jus sauce was totally unnecessary. A spoonful of juice from the pan as well as some of the sauteed carrots gave the pork plenty of flavor and juiciness, and the meat was cooked through fine. It tasted wonderful! Best of all, the Swiss cheese didn’t steal the thunder from the meat – it simply enhanced it. The creamed green beans were excellent. The beans were crisp, not mushy, and the cream gave it a hint of sweetness. And if you want to be REALLY bad, you could dip your pork into the cream sauce from the beans. MMMMM!!!

“I’m so full!” Ben declared as he took another bite of pork. “I couldn’t possibly eat another bite!” he announced as he added another piece of meat to his plate. This meal definitely ranks in our top 10 and is a must-make-again for sure. I’m constantly amazed by pork tenderloin. How can one piece of meat go from a delicious roast to a wonderful brisket sandwich to an amazing cheesy French cuisine??

Here’s the best part… not only was this whole meal really easy to make, but I only had to dirty a few dishes in the process! Clean-up was a breeze, and we had a little bit of leftovers for a yummy lunch today. This is one of those meals that would be great if you’re trying to impress someone – it looks much harder than it really is, and it tastes phenominal. In the doghouse? Make this for your sweetie and you’ll be off the couch and back in your own bed that very night. Trying to get a raise? Invite your boss over for dinner and serve this meal, and I’ll bet you not only get that raise, but you’ll even score that premium Employee of the Month parking space! (Hey, it’s worth a try!)

Bon appetit!

-Jessica

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