Pork Medallions, Braised Cabbage, and Pear Lager Sauce

The last 18 days of winter deserve some attention.

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March 02, 2021

Prep: 15min

Cook: 55min

Serves: 4

The gist.

With the green of parsley, the white of Gorgonzola, the purple of braised cabbage, and the brown of seared pork medallions, this is the perfect opportunity to compose a bold art piece on your finest white plate. Winter is still here, so enjoy some quality winter food.

A couple weeks ago I talked about how cooking meat that contains collagen to 180° F will result in an extremely tender texture. Today I have a different story. In the world of meat, another protein exists called elastin. Like collagen, elastin is also a sort of connective tissue. Unlike collagen, however, elastin will not soften and melt, regardless of how long you cook it. You know those bites of steak that leave you chewing and chewing as if you had a piece of rubber in your mouth? You end up with the same experience if the elastin is not removed from the meat before cooking.

In today’s recipe, the elastin is found on the pork tenderloin. You’ll find a thin sheet of white connective tissue covering one side of the tenderloin. This goes by the name of “silver skin.” If you leave the silver skin on, two things will happen as you cook the pork. First, as I mentioned before, the silver skin will not soften. It will remain rubbery and inedible. Second, the silver skin will contract as it cooks. This causes the edible meat to get pulled and twisted as well, resulting in an unpleasant, shrunken final product.

If this all sounds scary, just know that all you have to do is remove the silver skin. A sharp knife and some careful cutting and all silver skin worries will be put to rest.

Let me describe the overall vision of what you are about to make. On one side of the plate will be a bed of melt-in-your-mouth braised red cabbage. With the help of the acidic property of apple cider vinegar, the color of the cabbage should be jaw-droppingly bright. Sprinkled on top of the cabbage will be crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and chopped parsley leaves. The color contrast is wild. Next to the cabbage and cheese will sit two or three butter-seared pork medallions. These medallions will be coated in a pear and lager pan sauce.

On to the cabbage. Years ago I was working in a prep kitchen. One day the chef brought me a bin of whole cabbages and told me to slice them. It sounded easy, but after grabbing a knife and placing the first cabbage on the cutting board, I felt stumped. I tried a couple methods before he came by, seemingly disappointed, and showed me a better way. First, cut the cabbage into quarter lengthwise, going from the stem to the opposite end. Next, use the knife to completely slice away the white core, leaving only the leaves. You now have four, dense stacks of cabbage leaves. Separate the leaves into smaller stacks. Now, working with one stack at a time, you can slice the leaves lengthwise into thin strips. There you are! Sliced cabbage.

Regarding the pork, the two keywords to remember are “thick” and “quick.” Many cuts of pork have a very fine line between being undercooked and overcooked. Cutting the medallions to a thickness of 2 to 2.5 cm prevents the pork from quickly drying out when it hits the surface of the hot skillet. When you do place the medallions on the skillet, make sure it is indeed very hot. There will be sizzling and butter splattering, but that’s the way things go. Assuming you’ve cut the medallions to an appropriate thickness, the cooking time should be very quick. This is not an opportunity to multitask. Keep your attention on the medallions and sear them for about one and a half minutes per side. A nice crust will form and they’ll be all set to be reheated once the pan sauce is done.

The pan sauce consists of the drippings from the seared pork, a bit of lager, some chopped pear, butter, and dried rosemary. The end result is a sauce that lets each individual component shine. It’s sweet. It’s buttery. It’s slightly bitter. And it’s rosemary...y...ish. You’ll love it.

When all is said and done, this dish is fun. The color contrasts are wild. That cabbage makes your eyes pop, especially with the white Gorgonzola crumbles on top. The ingredients are well-suited for winter. And since there are still 18 more days of winter, why not make another winter dish?

Ingredients

  • Braised Cabbage
  • Pork Medallions
  • Pan Sauce
  • Serving

Steps

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  • Braised Cabbage
  • Pork Medallions
  • Pan Sauce
  • Serving

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Pork Medallions, Braised Cabbage, and Pear Lager Sauce

  • Prep time: 15min
  • Cook time: 55min
  • Serving size: 4
With the green of parsley, the white of Gorgonzola, the purple of braised cabbage, and the brown of seared pork medallions, this is the perfect opportunity to compose a bold art piece on your finest white plate. Winter is still here, so enjoy some quality winter food.

INGREDIENTS

  • *Braised Cabbage
  • 15 mL (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 900 g (2 lbs) red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 240 mL (1 cup) water
  • 30 mL (2 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
  • *Pork Medallions
  • 450 g (1 lb) pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 28 g (2 Tbsp) butter
  • *Pan Sauce
  • 14 g (1 Tbsp) butter
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 240 mL (1 cup) lager
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • *Serving
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • Chopped parsley

STEPS

  1. *Braised Cabbage

  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the cabbage, remaining 1 tsp salt, and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat until you reach a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Give the contents a stir every 10 minutes.

  4. Uncover and add apple cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook uncovered 5-10 minutes, or until most of the remaining liquid has evaporated.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

  6. *Pork Medallions

  7. Use a sharp knife to cut the white layer of connective tissue, referred to as "silver skin", off of the pork tenderloin. Slice the pork into 2.5 cm (1 in) medallions.

  8. Sprinkle the medallions on both sides with salt and pepper.

  9. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. When hot, add the butter. Once melted, place the medallions in the pan. You may have to work in two batches to avoid overcrowding. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute 30 seconds. Flip the medallions and cook the other side also for 1 minute 30 seconds. Transfer the pork to a plate to rest while you make the pan sauce. Keep the drippings in the pan

  10. *Pan Sauce

  11. Heat the same pan you used to cook the pork over medium heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the pear and black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

  12. Add the rosemary and salt and cook an additional 30 seconds.

  13. Add the lager and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

  14. Add the pork medallions to the sauce and continue to cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 62° C (145° F). Don't let the temperature go much higher!

  15. *Serving

  16. Plate the braised cabbage and medallions side by side. Sprinkle a generous amount of Gorgonzola cheese and parsley on top of the cabbage. Spoon the pan sauce over the medallions. Enjoy!

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