Let’s just say I came into a lot of apples last week. My friend’s trees were loaded with both red and green and I was at the right place at the right time. It goes without saying I loved getting them, but I was also a little bummed. The apples from my beloved tree had been disappointing this year, full of holes and lightly covered in scab. Her trees produced way more fruit and also without any skin blemishes. I guess I just had apple envy.
That didn’t stop me from putting them to use right away. One night they were sliced and sautéed in butter and piled on Belgium waffles with whipped cream. Grated, I folded them, along with a big dose of cinnamon, into batter and baked them into dense bread. My favorite way in the fall, though, is combining them with pork in this recipe where they’re sauteed with sweet onions and finished with a big splash of white wine or apple cider and loaded on top of pan seared pounded pork tenderloin (you may remember the version I did several years ago using pork chops)
I’m doing something with pork tenderloin you may never have done. More typically it’s roasted or grilled whole and then sliced into pieces. Instead I’m cutting the tenderloin into eight equal pieces and lightly pounding them with a kitchen mallet (or hammer if you don’t have one). This technique which produces what is called a “paillard” is more typically done with chicken. I like it because the thinness allows quick cooking and moist meat. Convenient to do ahead, the pork can be cut, pounded, seasoned and lightly floured then refrigerated for several hours. You may not have time to do this on a weeknight, but for a Saturday or Sunday dinner it’s a great plan. What’s more, the sliced apples and onions are cooked in the same pan as the pork.
A few things to remember. Seasoning the pork with the salt, pepper and thyme before it’s floured insures they’ll absorb more directly into the meat. The pork cooks fairly quickly so if it starts to brown too fast, lower your heat. White wine, apple cider or chicken broth are all good options for the liquid added to the apple and onions at the end to scrape up any of the flavorful browned bits stuck on the pan.
Cut tenderloin pieces pounded into paillards
- 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb pork tenderloin
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet or yellow onion (1/2 medium size)
- 2 cups thinly sliced apple (1 medium size)
- ½ cup white wine, apple cider or chicken broth
- Cut pork into 8 equal pieces (to make this easy to do, cut the tenderloin in half then cut each half into 4 equal pieces). In between wax paper or plastic wrap, pound each piece to ¼ to ½-inch thickness. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper and thyme, patting thyme onto meat. Turn and repeat with other side. Brush mustard on one side of pork then dredge in flour, shaking off excess (pork can be prepared to this point and refrigerated several hours).
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet; in a single layer add 4 pieces of pork and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and repeat cooking just until pork is cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes (remove one piece of pork and cut into it if you aren't sure it is cooked). Remove pork and keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat process with remaining 4 pieces of pork.
- If necessary add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same skillet and add onions; cook and stir until softened about 2 to 3 minutes. Add apples and cook and stir until apples are softened and onions are lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until simmering, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on bottom of the pan, about 1 minute or so. Season with salt and pepper then spoon apples and onions over pork.