Weeks ago, pork tenderloin was on sale at the Port Richmond Thrift Way for $1.99 a pound. Inspired by saving money and the prospect of receiving another ticket towards a free turkey from the supermarket, we came home with a ten-pound hunk of pork. Cutting the meat into four parts had me considerably close to vegetarianism, but after wrapping the pieces of meat and storing them in our freezer my mind began to race at the endless possibilities for warm, succulent, pork tenderloin recipes, four times over.
My taste for pork seems to wander to recipes that incorporate fruit or a sweet, sticky sauce but Joe was interested in transforming one of the slabs into a roast pork sandwich reminiscent of the local favorite from DiNic’s. From the get-go, I accepted the fact that any attempt to replicate their timeless, perfect recipe would be nowhere near close to the original, so I did my best to create one that would produce a similar tender, juicy meat to envelop in a soft roll and top with spinach, roasted red peppers and provolone. Sounds delicious, right? What’s even better is I didn’t even have to lift a finger!
Roast Pork Tenderloin, for sandwiches
3 lbs., pork tenderloin
3 Tbsp., olive oil
1 tsp., dried thyme
1 tsp., dried basil
1 Tbsp., dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper
¼ lb., pancetta, chopped
2 cups, white wine
1 bay leaf
Half of a lemon
1 cup, chicken broth
Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Combine olive oil with thyme, basil, oregano, garlic, and pinch of salt and pepper. Massage mixture onto outside of pork. In a Dutch oven, over medium/high heat, sear outside of pork until brown, about 4 minutes each side. Remove pork to a plate; in the pot sauté pancetta about 3 – 4 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Place roast back into pot with pancetta, add 2 cups of white wine, bay leaf, and squeeze one lemon half into pot. Cover and cook until internal temperature of meat is 150 degrees, about 2 hours. Let pork rest in juices about 30 minutes, then remove to a plate. Heat juices in pot over high heat and whisk in chicken broth, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. Reduce liquid to about half, slice pork and remove to pot. Serve on long rolls, or alone.
This is a practical, one-pot dish using simple ingredients to compliment the flavors of the pork. The herb mixture is fairly standard but is key in not only seasoning the meat, but also highlighting the mixture of natural liquids and wine that the pork braises in. As the white wine cooks, the sharp, alcoholic acidity disappears, and a gentle sweetness develops and, after about 2 hours of relaxing in this jacuzzi of juices the tenderloin all but falls apart. Adding broth to the pot and cooking down the jus, as you scrape the delicious brown bits of remnants left of the searing process from the bottom, produces a richer liquid for the cut pork to be coated in.
While it wasn’t the same experience as one would have on a crowded lunch break at the Reading Terminal, coveting a hard-to-come-by stool at the counter of DiNic’s as patrons watch on in envy as you have salty pork juices dripping from your chin, it was as good as it can get when making a smaller quantity in only two hours for two people. The sautéed spinach, roasted red peppers and wonderfully stinky sharp provolone were only added benefits to an already delicious piece of meat, and the soft, long roll was the perfect safety net to soak up any juices that would otherwise fall to the plate. Even better is the fact that Joe prepared this on his own on his day off, and it was ready when I came home from work. As much as I love to cook, I may love being pampered a tiny bit more!