Filetto di Maiale al Ginepro, Gin e Prugne, con Purè di Topinambur e Patate
Juniper & Gin Pork Tenderloin with Plums and Sun-Choke Mashed Potatoes
After my recent problems with my freezer and although I am a great lover of vegetable dishes, (preferably of the vegetarian kind but with added bacon), I was indeed ready, willing and able to partake in some "sins of the flesh" this evening! And like the Big Bad Wolf, I set my sights on these three little portions of pigginess- only I managed to turn them into a spectacular supper!
I started off by preparing the potato and sun-choke mash. I made this by bringing about 1 cupful each of water and milk to the boil and then adding 1 good-sized potato and 3 sun chokes, all of which I grated. I seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cooked for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently until all of the liquid was absorbed and the grated potatoes and chokes became a smooth puree.
At the same time I set about preparing the pork and plums- which was a very simple affair.
In a hot frying pan, I added a pat of clarified butter- not too much, and began frying the medallions of pork around the outer edges at a high temperature. This is not about searing or sealing the meat in any way- as we all know that is nonsense by now, but rather about accumulating some good flavors in our frying pan. I added some finely chopped garlic and not so finely chopped shallot, a twig or two of thyme and 5-6 juniper berries which I crushed a little in my mortar and pestle. I seasoned with salt and pepper and added the plum slices, stirring continually- this contributed to a build-up of sticky, delicious residue to the surface of the pan.
At this point, the real fun began, as I deglazed the pan with a generous shot of gin... yum! Immediately there was a little cloud of steaming cocktail fragrance and the whole mixture in the frying pan came together. I added a little white wine and a drizzle of honey and turned the meat over to start the top and bottom cooking- but at a more gentle heat, more of a low simmer.
Whilst this was happening, I had time to get back to the mash and to finish that off- which basically entailed adding a little butter, a tiny squeeze of lemon and some freshly grated nutmeg. I whipped it us, simply using a wooden spoon and it became lovely and shiny-smooth... and was soon ready to serve!
By now, the juices in the pork had relaxed and the meat was rested and aromatic from the juniper, gin, wine and plum juices and of course the garlic, thyme and pepper. The honey rounded off the flavor and gave the meat a gentle glaze... and I just couldn't wait any longer! I served the pork medallions on a bed of mash, with a generous amount of juicy plums and enjoyed it with the same sauvignon blanc I had used for cooking.
So there you have it- a simple and inexpensive and yet almost decadent little supper! And if you ask me nicely, I may just invite you in so that you don't have to blow my house down to get it!