Pork tenderloin medallions with fresh fig


Pork tenderloin cooks quickly and makes a flavorful, easy dish when cut into cutlets and flattened slightly with a meat pounder. The distinctive flavors in this easy dish come from both the figs and Marsala, a fortified wine from Sicily. Marsala has a rich, smoky flavor that comes from oxidation during aging. There are dry (secco) and sweet (dolce) Marsala. This dish is made with sweet Marsala, although typically sweet Marsala is served as a dessert wine and is used most notably in a rich whipped egg and sugar dessert called Zabaglione.

  • 1 pork tenderloin, about 1-1/4 pounds, well trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All purpose flour (about ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1-1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 12 firm ripe figs, preferably green skinned, stems trimmed,cut into ½ inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Trim the fat from the pork tenderloin. Use the tip of a boning or other thin blade knife to loosen and remove the shiny white membrane that covers portions of the meat. This is called the silver skin and can be sliced off in thin ribbon width sections, along the grain and parallel to the meat. Cut the tenderloin in ½ inch thick slices, reserve any odd pieces for another use.

2. Place the slices of tenderloin in a single layer on a work surface and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Lightly pound the slices to make cutlets about ¼ inch thick. Remove the plastic and generously sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a pile on a plate and very lightly dredge the cutlets in flour.

3. Heat a large (12-inch) heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and heat until butter is melted. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Quickly add the cutlets and adjusting the heat to maintain a steady sizzle cook the meat 1 to 2 minutes per side, or just until the pork looses its pink color. Pour 1 cup of the Marsala over the pork and gently boil the Marsala, turning the pork, until the wine is cooked down and the pork is golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a platter. Boil the Marsala and juices until thick, about 1 minute. Pour over the pork. Sprinkle with half of the thyme leaves.

4. Add the remaining ¼ cup Marsala and the figs. Sprinkle the figs with sugar and cook, over medium high heat, turning the figs until they turn golden and are cooked into a chunky jam, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Spoon over the pork and sprinkle with the remaining thyme. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings

Serving Suggestions: Serve this pretty entrée with a side dish of cooked green beans sautéed in olive oil and tossed with finely chopped fresh mint. Or, refer to Fig Heaven by Marie Simmons and serve with the Potatoes Roasted on Fig Leaves (part of the salmon recipe) on page 75.

Recipe by Marie Simmons. Adapted from Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons (Andrews McMeel Publishing, April 2008)

About Chef Bruce Aidells
Bruce Aidells is America's "go-to guy" for all issues involving meat and meat cookery. He is called upon for information and insights for most national newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and many more. Aidells, who founded Aidells Sausage Company in 1983, also has a reputation as an innovator in the gourmet sausage industry. While he left the sausage company in 2002 to continue to pursue his food-writing career, he is still considered a renowned expert on charcuterie and salumi.

Since 1982, Aidells has written 11 cookbooks. Four have received cookbook award nominations. His first book, with Denis Kelly, Hot Links and Country Flavors, received the IACP Julia Child award for best single subject cookbook in 1991. The Complete Meat Cookbook was nominated for a James Beard Award in 1999 and Bruce Aidells's Complete Pork Book received another Beard nomination in 2005. His other titles include Flying Sausages and Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Cookbook. In addition, Aidells contributed to The Joy of Cooking, 1997 Edition, writing the meat, poultry and stuffing chapters. Aidells recipes have appeared in over 30 cookbooks as a guest contributor and he wrote the key meat tips for The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

Aidells has often appeared as a guest on TV and for the last 3 years has had a regular cooking segment on View From The Bay on KGO, the San Francisco affiliate of ABC.

Aidells has appeared on NBC Today, Martha Stewart Living Al Roker on the Road, The FoodTV Network and many other cooking shows.

Aidells is a frequent guest not only on local Bay Area radio but many national shows including Fresh Air with Teri Gross, The Splendid Table and Everyday Cooking with Martha Stewart.

Aidells is a contributing editor at Bon Appetit Magazine and Eating Well Magazine as well as a regular contributor to Fine Cooking, Food and Wine, Gourmet, Cooking Pleasures, Real Food and Cooking Light Magazines. Bruce Aidells is married to Nancy Oakes, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of San Francisco's top rated restaurant, Boulevard Restaurant. Aidells and Oakes live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sonoma Wine Country.

About Marie Simmons, author of "Fig Heaven"
Marie Simmons is an award winning cookbook author, a popular cooking teacher, and food writer whose recipes and features have appeared in hundreds of magazines. She was a monthly columnist for Bon Appetit and a Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist for over 15 years. She writes a column, Simmons Sez, for the Bay Area News Group and is a contributing editor to Eating Well Magazine.

Simmons has written over twenty cookbooks including Fig Heaven (William Morrow 2004), The Amazing World of Rice (William Morrow 2003), The Good Egg (Houghton Mifflin 2000) a winner of a James Beard Award, Fresh & Fast (Houghton Mifflin 1996) and Lighter, Quicker, Better, written with Richard Sax (William Morrow 1995) winner of both the Julia Child and James Beard awards. She also wrote A to Z Bar Cookies, A to Z Puddings, A to Z Muffins, and A to Z Pancakes. One of her first cookbooks, 365 Ways to Cook Pasta has over 500,000 copies in print.

Simmons newest book is the best selling Sur La Table's Things Cooks Love: Implements, Ingredients, Recipes (Andrews McMeel 2008), nominated for an IACP best cookbook award in 2008. She is currently working on a new book, Fresh & Fast Vegetarian (Houghton Mifflin 2011).

Simmons makes her home in Richmond, CA where her favorite pastime is cooking for friends and family, because, she claims, "To write about the food I love, I need to touch it first."


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