Monday, December 20, 2010

Throwing a Show

Many years ago, I traveled to Scotland for the first time to attend a medical conference. There are exactly three memorable things from that trip.

The first is that Glasgow has the best dance clubs I've ever been to. The music scene is truly off the hook. It was the norm to stay out dancing with my partner in crime, Del, until 5 am every single night, get a few hours of sleep, and then head to the tradeshow booth looking like a zombie. It was worth it though to feel that amazing music pulsing through your veins as you boogied like there was no tomorrow next to all sorts of nice kilt-wearing locals (even though I had no clue what they were saying).

The second is when I learned a funny new phrase while listening to the radio. That's right, kids, this was before iPods were even invented (gasp!), so I had to turn on the hotel room radio for some listening pleasure. I found this one station out of London that played the same awesome music from the dance clubs, along with some funny DJs carrying on witty banter. They were interviewing a female guest and were having a big debate about when and why women throw a show. I kept listening and listening, trying to get my arms around what this "throwing a show" actually was. Then it dawned on me. . . . It's the UK slag for faking an orgasm!

I thought it was brilliant and have since stolen that terminology when referencing fancy meals that looked as if you slaved away in the kitchen for 48 hours when really it came together rather effortlessly in minutes. Perception is reality, right? I served up one of my "fake out" meals on Friday and wanted to share it with you because it's great for the holidays when you're short on time but want to serve something special. If you can boil water, you can make this. And people will moan in delight over it — but they will most certainly NOT be throwing a show.

You basically take a pork tenderloin and wrap it in pancetta (because bacon really does make everything taste better). While that's cooking in the oven, you make a beautiful sauce of sauteed mushrooms, onions and canned tomatoes cooked down with some Marsala wine and finished off with a bit of cream. It's delicious and satisfying, especially on a cold Winter's night. I just served this up with a very clean and quick side of linguini in a lemon-parlsey sauce which is the perfect acidic foil to the rich main course. So if you feel the pressure to put on an elaborate dinner. Don't. Just "throw a show" with this one. Trust me, you'll look like a culinary rock star, but without all the exhaustion, stress and burns.

Oh yeah, and the third thing is when I crawled into my hotel room two and a half hours before my 7:00 am flight. My taxi was coming in 30 minutes so I figured I would just stay up. I was packed, dressed and sitting on the edge of my bed with about 10 minutes to spare. I laid back — with both feet still planted on the ground — and woke up six hours later.

Pork Tenderloin with Pancetta and Mushroom Marsala Sauce
Slightly adapted from Urban Italian
[Note: This is a fantastic cookbook with delicious, no-fail recipes that can be made in a normal kitchen. A great gift for anyone who loves to cook or wants to try to.]

For the Pork:
1 - 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
1/5 lb pancetta, sliced paper thin
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Sauce:
1 medium onion (about 1 cup), vertically sliced
1/2 lb mixed mushrooms (about 2 cups), sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 14 oz can of good quality peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

To prepare the Pork:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay a row of pancetta rounds, overlapping 3 across, along the length of the cutting board (so it's like a bed of pancetta). Sprinkle pepper and thyme on top of the pancetta and then lay the tenderloin in the middle. Roll the pancetta slices around the loin, pressing the pancetta against the pork so that it's wrapped well -- like a Christmas package! If for some reason the pancetta won't stick to the pork, you can tie it with butcher's string.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it's smoking. Add the pancetta-wrapped tenderloin and cook, rotating and turning periodically, until the meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Remove the meat to a roasting pan and place in the over on the middle rack. Roast the tenderloin 12-14 minutes for medium rare and about 15 minutes for medium. Remove from the oven and place on a rack or plate to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
To prepare the Sauce:
Return the saute pan with the reserved pork cooking juices to the stove over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Allow the onions to caramelize a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and turn the heat to high. Add the olive oil. The pan will still be fairly dry (mushrooms always soak up whatever's in the pan), and there will be caramelized bits on the bottom; those will help flavor the sauce, but you want the mushrooms to saute not burn. Allow the mushrooms and onions to caramelize a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the Marsala wine and mix well. The wine may flame a bit if you're cooking on a gas stove, so be careful but the flame will subside in a few seconds. Continue cooking until the alcohol has almost evaporated and everything looks all glazy (about 30 seconds).
Add 1/3 cup of water, the heavy cream, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and continue cooking until everything has combined and the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency, about 10 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley, mixing to combine.
To finish the dish:
Slice the pork into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and remove to serving platter.
Pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with a tad of sea salt and serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds too good and too easy! It's going on my menu for wednesday night's dinner.