Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Romance With Ease: Pork Tenderloin en Croute

I have a feeling this new year is going to fly by as fast as 2008. You blink and it’s February…sneeze and it’s April. Is your calendar starting to fill up like mine? Not that I’m some social butterfly or anything, but there is so much planning to be done in 2009 that I feel the year is half over with. Have you made plans for Valentines Day? I’m traveling for work the week before and week after Valentines Day, but home free on the weekend. Jim is working the weekend of Valentines so we are not making a big deal of it this year. I have made it very clear that I like celebrating Valentines Day and that this is a one-time freebie for Jim. But, if you have time to plan something for this Hallmark holiday – maybe a special dinner at home? …then I have just the recipe for you! Pork Tenderloin en Croute. It sounds impressive and difficult. This may look hard, but let me tell you it is just a bunch of steps – all of which are super easy. Follow me!

I found a pork tenderloin on sale at the grocery store (a huge one) for under $5 so I bought it without ever having cooked pork tenderloin before. I thought this would be a nice challenge and started looking up recipes ideas. There are so many ways to make this, but I have to say this recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse really caught my eye because of the puff pastry. You can also find this recipe on foodnetwork.com.

The day before I made this meal I unwrapped the pork and seasoned it with garlic powder, onion powder and Mediterranean herb rub by Made in Napa. After it was evenly seasoned I wrapped it in plastic wrap tightly and placed in a baking dish (in case it leaks), then put in fridge to chill out for a day.

When I was ready to make this AMAZINGLY IMPRESSIVE ENTRÉE, I pulled the meat out of the fridge and let it hang on the counter while I prepared the other stuff. Oh, something else you need to pull out to defrost is the frozen puff pastry.

The first thing I did was make the Mushroom Duxelle. I swear as I was reading the recipe, I kept saying to myself “Mushroom Deluxe." Ha! So I looked it up and I will share with you… Duxelles, pronounced dook-SEHL, is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter, and reduced to a paste (sometimes cream is used as well). It is a basic preparation used in stuffing and sauces or as a garnish. Duxelles is most comonly used in Beef Wellington. Hmmm… I am going to put that on my list next.

In a large skillet melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium-high heat.

Mince one large shallot and add it to the butter along with one large tablespoon of minced garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

We are NOT mushroom fans in my house, but I chopped these up so finely that you couldn’t even tell by the texture what it was, and the sauce this was cooked in was SO flavorful you wouldn’t even know!

The recipe calls for 3 lbs of white button mushrooms, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use that much. Instead I purchased a pre-washed ready to go bag of white mushrooms. Then I used my really great pampered chef quick dicer and went to town on these little shrooms. I minced them up finely.

Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt.

add 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper and cook, stirring until the mushrooms begin to caramelize and all the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

Add ¾ cup white wine, I'm using an economical bottle here.

1 tablespoon soy sauce.

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar,

1 tablespoon of worcestershire (can you imagine right now how intense a flavor this has?)

Now just let it cook, stirring to deglaze the pan and until the liquid has all evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the pan and let it rest for 10 minutes while we prepare the puff pastry and pork.

When the pastry is thawed, sprinkle some flour on the counter and on top of the pastry and roll it out to a 12x18 inch rectangle. Mine wasn’t exact.
In fact, I didn’t want to cook an entire pork tenderloin because it was too massive for just two people.

So I cut mine in half, so I was really only wrapping a six inch long pork tenderloin.

For Christmas my Dad surprised me with a Frisper fresh food keeper. It's AWESOME! I vacuum sealed half the herb crusted pork tenderloin and next month I can defrost the pork and surprise Jim again with another fantastic dinner.

Using the same pan, I added about a tablespoon of olive oil and turned the heat to medium-high.

When it was HOT, I added the pork tenderloin and seared it until brown on all sides.

If I had a working meat thermometer I would sear until the internal temperature reached 110 degrees F. Recipe says it should take 15-20 minutes, so I just watched the clock and kept turning the meat until it was brown all over but not burned.

Preheat oven to 400 and let the meat rest while we gather the rest of the ingredients.

Egg wash. This is the equivilant of one egg with a tablespoon of water.

Use about ¼ cup of creole mustard or any whole-grain mustard and slather it all over the pork.

This recipe SCREAMS flavor doesn’t it?

Now, pack the cooled mushroom mixture around the pork tenderloin.

Then flip and cover the bottom and sides also.

Place the coated meat on the pastry. The recipe says: “Place the coated meat on the outer third of the pastry. Brush a 1/2-inch border of egg wash on the pastry around the meat. Gently pull the remaining pastry over the meat to completely enclose, and press gently to seal. With a small knife cut away the excess pastry to make an even border and crimp the pastry edges with a fork dipped in flour.”

Without pictures I was having a hard time figuring out what exactly that meant. So my version consist of me placing the pork tenderloin smack in the center of my pastry. Then I brushed the egg wash on all four sides of the puff pastry and wrapped that bad boy up like a little present.

Next I sliced off the excess pastry and used the tines of a fork (not dipped in flour because I already put the flour away) to pinch the ends closed.

The recipe called for a foil lined baking sheet. I used a baking pan and lined it with foil just like they told me. I wouldn’t do this in the future, it was too hard to move OFF the foil after cooking. Put a little butter in the bottom of your baking pan (or leave it out to save some calories, I don’t think it necessarily added a lot to the dish) and place your wrapped pork in the center.

Cut some slits on top and brush more egg wash over the top of the whole thing. Beautiful!

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn. I guess if they wanted me to FLIP the pork they would have said “flip” but they said “turn” so I simply rotated the pan in the other direction after 10 minutes and continued to bake for another 10 minutes.

After 20 minutes of total baking time the puff pastry looked really pretty, but you should use a WORKING meat thermometer and check the doneness of the meat. The internal temperature should be 140 degrees. I actually cooked mine in the oven for a total of 30 minutes because I’m not sure I actually cooked it long enough when I seared the meat in the first place.
When it’s ready, let it rest about 5 minutes before you start cutting into it.

I served this with steamed asparagus, it was WONDERFUL and looked so impressive when the pastry was brown and flaky. Let me tell you about the FLAVOR. This was bursting with mouth watering flavor. I didn’t really get into the flavor from the Duxelle earlier…it was hearty and salty and delish. The mustard was a great surprise too. I would definitely make this again – probably for company next time because it is so impressive. See, there are lots of steps, but you do the whole thing in three parts: Make Mushroom Duxelle, Sear and smother pork, wrap in puff pastry. Voila, a perfect Valentine’s dinner to surprise your sweetie with!

Definitely serve a great wine with this meal. We drank a Sterling Zin, that was bursting with fruit as much as the entree. Dessert was store bought chocolate truffles! Then we were stuffed, completely. Fat and happy, what more could you ask for on Valentines Day (or any day.)


  1. OH MY GOSH!!!! This looks AMAZING!!!!!! I'm totally going to make this sometime next week. Yeay!!!

  2. Yum...that looks amazing, Mandy!

  3. Wow Mandy. That looks incredible! I might have to give this a try (without the mushrooms).


  4. This looks so good and so impressive!! I would definitely serve this at a dinner party - wish I had known about it before I had mine a few weekends ago. IT would've been the perfect dish.

  5. That looks so impressive and yummy. Sounds great!

  6. Oh my..that is soooo pretty. Very Professional!


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