This delicious dish is simple enough for family meal, yet elegant for special dinner party


Last updated 1/8/2020 at 4:11pm

It seems to me that people who love to cook at home often have two separate styles of recipes that they rely on. First come the everyday dishes that they make week after week for their family and any close friends who might drop by - simple, straightforward, delicious food they can cook quickly and easily with minimal fuss. And then there are more elaborate, special-occasion dishes that they only make to impress their guests at special dinner parties.

I think, however, that the very nature of special occasion entertaining has changed over the years. More and more hosts and guests alike prefer that dinner parties feel like relaxed family-style meals - occasions at which you don't have to dress up in uncomfortable clothes, worry whether you're using the right fork, or be extra cautious not to drip your red wine on the fancy tablecloth. Good food that feels more like a family supper puts everyone at ease gathered around the table at happy ease.

That's why, right now, when you're probably still thinking about how you'd like to change the way you cook and entertain this year, I'd like to share a favorite recipe of mine that is equally welcome and easy to prepare whether you serve it to your loved ones on a weeknight or present it to weekend dinner party guests. It's my pork medallions on apple compote with black pepper cider sauce.

Pork is a really home-style choice of meat, and it's usually so reasonably priced. Yet, when you choose a piece of boneless pork loin and ask the butcher in your supermarket to cut it into the medallion-shaped pieces called for in the recipe, you have a main ingredient that looks surprisingly elegant for a special party. The medallions also cook very quickly, which makes them a perfect choice for a family meal. (You could also prepare a similar version of the dish substituting medallions of lamb, slices of boneless turkey breast, or even boneless and skinless chicken breast halves.)

The apple compote beneath the pork is also an appealingly homey preparation. Yet, a few easy special touches - some apple cider jelly and splashes of white wine and cream - transform the compote into something surprisingly elegant. The same goes for the sauce spooned over the pork, which gains its own bright flavor from the cider jelly plus some coarsely crushed black peppercorns.

Those three easily assembled elements add up to a dish that looks like something a fine restaurant might serve, yet tastes like the best in comfort food. In other words, it offers the best of both worlds, making it a recipe I hope you'll want to prepare again and again, whatever the occasion.


Serves 4

For the black pepper cider sauce:

1 cup (250 mL) good-quality canned chicken stock or broth, plus a little extra if needed

2 tablespoons apple cider jelly or apple jelly

1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns, plus extra to taste

For the apple compote:

2 pounds (1 kg) large pippin or Granny Smith apples

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 teaspoons apple cider jelly or apple jelly

1/4 cup (60 mL) dry white wine

1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the pork medallions:

1 1/2 pounds (750 g) pork loin, cut into 8 equal medallions

1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

First, prepare the sauce: In a 10-inch (25-cm) skillet, combine the stock or broth and the jelly. Over medium-high heat, simmer briskly until the liquid reduces to 1/2 cup (125 mL), stirring frequently to take care that the sugar in the jelly doesn't burn along the side of the pan. Pour in the cream and simmer briefly, just until the sauce thickens. Whisk in the butter and crushed peppercorns to taste. Cover and keep warm.

For the compote, peel, core, and quarter the apples, then cut into thin slices. In a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Add the apples, saute briefly, and then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft. Add the jelly and wine and stir until the jelly melts. Add the cream and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg. Keep warm.

To prepare the medallions, first lightly dust them all over with the flour and season to taste with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat 1 or 2 heavy skillets with enough cooking surface to hold the medallions in a single layer without crowding. Add 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter to each skillet, and swirl to coat the cooking surface. Add the pork medallions and saute until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

To serve, mound the compote on 4 heated plates. Arrange two medallions on top of the compote on each plate. Spoon a little sauce over and around the medallions. Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.


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