Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pork Scaloppine with Lemons

Scaloppine are pieces of meat that have been pounded very thin. You’re probably familiar with veal scaloppine, which are used to make dishes like veal marsala and veal parmesan. Veal scaloppine can be hard to find, however, and they’re usually pricey. That’s why this dish calls for pork scaloppine, which you can make yourself.

(serves two adults and two children)

1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
2 large lemons
¼ c flour
3 Tbs canola oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter
6 Tbs sweet vermouth
½ c chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

2. Cut the tenderloin across its width into six approximately equal pieces. Cover a cutting board with a sheet of wax paper. Working with one piece at a time, place the pork cut-side up on the wax paper and cover with a second sheet of wax paper. Using a wooden mallet or the bottom of a small heavy pan, pound the pork until it forms a quarter-inch-thick scaloppine. Repeat with the remaining pork.

3. Trim the ends off both lemons, revealing the pulp. Cut one of the lemons into eight thin slices. Cut four similarly thin slices from the second lemon. Squeeze the rest of the second lemon, producing 2-3 tablespoons of juice.

4. Measure the flour into a pie plate or shallow bowl.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, salt and pepper three of the scaloppine and dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Sauté the scaloppine in the oil until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet, which should now be place in the preheated over. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining scaloppine.

6. Pour off any excess fat from the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet. Once it has stopped foaming, add the lemon slices and cook them until well browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the slices. Add 2 tablespoons of the vermouth and cook until the vermouth boils down to a glaze, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the caramelized lemon slices to the oven, placing two on top of each scaloppine.

7. Return the heat to medium-high and use the remaining quarter-cup of vermouth to deglaze the pan (see tip below). Add the reserved lemon juice and the chicken broth, bringing the sauce to a boil. Cook until it reduces to a quarter-cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and serve over the scaloppine.

• The purpose of deglazing the pan is to incorporate into the sauce all of the flavorful bits stuck to the bottom. When deglazing, you should scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to help the solvent (in this case, the alcohol in the vermouth) do its job.

• Eat the lemon slices, peel and all. Caramelizing them takes the edge off their sourness.

• This dish can easily be fancied up with some fresh sage leaves and a few slices of prosciutto. After you’ve salted and peppered the scaloppine, top each with two sage leaves. Then cover each with a slice of prosciutto, tucking any excess underneath. (The prosciutto will stick to the pork, sealing in the sage leaves.) Finally, dredge all in the flour and proceed as above.

• You can also make this dish with chicken. Simply cut a boneless breast crosswise into three or four pieces and pound them as above.

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