Pork medallions lathered in a creamy sauce infused with the rich aromas of juniper and porcini. Oh, this is wonderful. And it’s easy. The recipe calls for dried porcini, but if you’re lucky enough to find them fresh, so much the better. Do buy the fatty slices of pork. It’s the fat which makes it so succulent.
Pork Medallions in a Creamy Sauce of Juniper and Porcini
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‘Succulent’. What a great adjective. But to be used sparingly, and possibly only with pork. Or a lamb chop, maybe.
Fiorenzo isn’t a fussy eater by any means, but he doesn’t much go for pork chops or trout, having had too much of them. Our landscape here in northern Italy is traversed by canals which channel water from the rivers and direct it through the plains for agriculture, clocking up hydro-electric energy on the way. When the fishing season is open, khaki clad enthusiasts will position themselves calmly along the edge, waiting for the fresh-water trout to bite. Fiorenzo’s father was a keen fisherman, which meant the freezer was often full of trout, and constituted the fish component of their diet.
His aversion to pork lies in the fact that when he eats lunch in the osterias and trattorias, often his only choice of protein is a pork chop. So he gets a bit sick of it, and isn’t filled with joy when he comes home for lunch and finds pork on his plate, even here.
My challenge, then, is to disguise it. And this recipe does a fine job of turning a nonchalent pork medallions into a very fine dish. Yes, he likes it. It goes down well.
Both juniper and porcini can be foraged here in our hills, so the flavour feels very local and grounding. Porcini lends an earthy richness, while juniper imparts pine and wood. There’s also a sprinkling of nutmeg and fennel. They come together to form a flavour which is deep and satisfying.
You want to buy slices of pork loin with streaks of fat, like in the photo above. The fat melts and blends with the coconut cream – or full fat dairy cream, if you use it – and makes for a luscious sauce. These slices divided nicely into 6 good sized pork medallions. Scallopine in Italian. Delectable little morsels.
If you have a little time on your hands, marinate the pork for a while to really let the flavours soak in. And then, when they’re cooking, make sure to put the lid on the pan for a few minutes to cook the medallions all the way through and condense the flavours.
Warm the plates. And serve with a tris of steam-sauteed vegetables on the side.
What’s your favourite way of cooking pork medallions?
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- 3 slices of fatty pork loin
- ½ stick of celery, finely sliced
- ½ cup coconut cream (or full fat dairy cream)
- 10 juniper berries, crushed with the back of a knife
- 2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled into small pieces
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon course sea salt
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- Cut each pork slice into 6 medallions.
- Place the celery, coconut cream, juniper, porcini, fennel, nutmeg and salt into a large frypan and stir well to combine.
- Add the pork medallions in a single layer and turn to coat them on both sides. If you have time, allow them to marinate in the sauce for a while.
- When ready to cook, bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for around 2½ minutes on each side, then put the lid on the pan and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Turn each piece, and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, stil covered with the lid. Then, remove the lid and lower the heat.
- Place the tapioca starch into a small bowl. Ladel a couple of tablespoons of sauce into the tapioca and stir well so that no lumps remain. Return the slurry to the pan and stir through so that the sauce thickens.
- Serve on warm plates, and enjoy!
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