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PORK TENDERLOIN WITH BALSAMIC SAUCE cooked two ways

June 7, 2010
Pork tenderloin with balsamic sauce over polenta
Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic sauce over polenta is delicious on the trail or in the dining room!

I am a huge fan of Balsamic vinegar. Add to almost any dish and Balsamic vinegar gives you a nice tang, some oak and a bit of sweetness. You can even use it on fruit!
I will have a recipe for this in time for strawberries in the next issue. It’s important to choose a high quality vinegar because some cheaper versions add sugar and additives to mimic true aged balsamic. Two brands I really like and use regularly are Napoleon and my favorite, Colavita brand. Colavita is aged for six years and contains a high percentage of grape must for a deeper flavor. The price point is also quite affordable. I paid about nine dollars for a seventeen ounce bottle. Just don't be put off by the price, because you can pay in excess of forty dollars for eight ounces of something spectacular! So let's cook.

Large Dutch oven for braising the dish
1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil (I use Colavita brand here, too)
3-4 lb pork tenderloin sliced 1/4 inch or large dice (or your favorite cut of pork chops, pork loin, etc). trimmed of their fat
1-2 cups white wine (Chardonnay works well, do not use cooking wine, it contains too much salt)
1/2 - 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar depending on taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon chicken base instead of salt (optional), Better Than Bullion Brand
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
4 cloves garlic crushed
2 medium yellow onions thinly sliced. The original recipe calls for small white onions (Cippoline). I found it a lot easier to work with the regular yellow onion, you may also substitute a sweet variety if available.
3-5 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water to thicken
4-6 sprigs fresh Rosemary, leaves stripped off (Dried Rosemary will work in a pinch)
Esprit Du Sel sea salt* and pepper to taste

Prepare your grill or campfire. Pour the olive oil into the Dutch oven and when the oil has the come up to heat, almost smoking, add the tenderloin and brown the meat, stirring to prevent burning. Next add the garlic and onions, saute until the onions are wilted, but be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Next add the wine to deglaze the pan, and with a wood spatula stir up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Now add the chicken stock, Rosemary and ½ cup vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. I prefer more vinegar, so if you choose, just add the additional vinegar. Season lightly as the flavor will change as the dish cooks. Place over the coals and bring to a very slow simmer. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir well. Be sure to check the dish ans stir it to prevent the cornstarch thickener from burning on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Braise very slowly for one to one and a half hours, adjust seasonings. Serve with sliced, pre-cooked Polenta (I used Zerto brand, it comes in an eighteen ounce tube) pan fried in olive oil. Or serve over rice or with some nice artisan french bread for dipping. Enjoy.

*Salt is a highly underestimated seasoning tool. For this dish I use imported French sea salt. The brand is Esprit Du Sel (Grey sea salt). This salt has a unique composition and flavor all it's own. This salt adds a new dimension to this dish and many other preparations. I sprinkle this on thick sliced tomatoes when the local farms have them fresh at their stands, and it tastes like summer; amazing. The salt is available at World Market, I paid ten dollars for fourteen ounces. If you prefer you can also use white French sea salt, it is a little bit more refined (washed) and it just costs a bit more than the grey salt.

If you want to cook this on your stove top do it this way: In a pressure cooker, place the meat with 1 can of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of the vinegar. pressure cook the cut of meat for 1 - 1 1/2 hours depending on the weight of the cut. In a separate large pot, saute the onions in the olive oil, then add the garlic and saute. Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the chicken stock, vinegar, rosemary and salt and pepper. Remove the meat from the pressure cooker and shred with a fork removing the fat. Pour the liquid from the cooker into the onion garlic mixture, and add the shredded pork. The beauty of the pressure cooker is that you can use a much cheaper cut of meat, and it will be fork tender. Bring this to a boil and add the cornstarch slurry mixing constantly to prevent burning, remove from the heat immediately when the sauce thickens. After the dish cools a bit, adjust the seasonings. All of the flavors will mellow after a day in the refrigerator.