Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Hoisin-Sesame Sauce

Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Hoisin-Sesame Sauce
From Test Kitchen Favorites: The 2007 Companion Cookbook to the Hit TV Show (America's Test Kitchen, Brookline, MA, 2006). Copyright 2006 by the Editor's at America's Test Kitchen. Used by permission of the publisher.

Serves 4 to 6

We prefer natural to enhanced pork (pork that has been injected with a salt solution to increase moistness and flavor) in this recipe. Begin checking the doneness of smaller medallions 1 or 2 minutes early; they may need to be taken out of the pan a little sooner.

2 pork tenderloins (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each), trimmed of fat and silver skin, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and tied; thinner end pieces removed and tied together
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Hoisin-Sesame Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork cut side down and cook, without moving the pieces, until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the pork and brown on the second side, 3 to 5 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium. Using tongs, stand each piece on its side and cook, turning the pieces as necessary, until the sides are well browned and the internal temperature registers 145 to 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a platter and tent lightly with foil; let rest while making the pan sauce, then serve.

Hoisin-Sesame Sauce

Makes enough to sauce 2 pork tenderloins

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup orange juice from 2 oranges
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced 1/8 inch thick on the bias
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Pour off any fat from the skillet in which the pork was cooked. Add the oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Add the hoisin sauce, orange juice, broth, and any juices from the resting meat and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and scallions. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste, pour the sauce over the pork and serve immediately.

TIPS FROM LYNNE

The "enhanced pork" mentioned in the headnote is an attempt of commercial pork producers to remedy the lack of juiciness and flavor in today's pork. The meat is pumped with water, salt and other substances, not my idea of where I want my food money to go. Paying for up to 12 percent water is not my idea of economy. Check pork labels. Not only is the adulterated food we don't need, but it is nearly impossible to brown because that "enhancement" keeps draining out of the meat, producing steam, not the caramelization that makes pork so tantalizing. For a treat, check local farmers for pork processed without enhancement. If you run across Berkshire or Duroc or other breed specific meat, you might have found memorable eating.

Use cotton kitchen twine to tie the pork medallions around their middle. This helps retain their shape during cooking. To make medallions from the end pieces of the tenderloin, fold the narrow, thinner "tail" end underneath the larger half and tie with twine, coaxing the meat into a round shape of uniform thickness.

Pork tenderloins have little fat, making it essential to avoid overcooking or you'll end up with shoe leather. Don't rely on appearance — use an instant-read thermometer.