Restaurant dinners that feel or look complicated can often times be the easiest to prepare. With very little pre-planning, a restaurant-style dinner can make it to table in less than 45 minutes. Make it either for a quick weeknight family dinner or a special romantic evening for this upcoming Valentine's Day. For this meal, I use lean pork tenderloin, which I slice into medallions and pound thin. I pair it with kumquats cooked into a marmalade and puréed celeriac root, a vegetable underutilized in home kitchens but very popular in restaurants. The sweet and tart orange flavor of the marmalade and the bright celery flavor of the celeriac pair perfectly with pork.
Both kumquats and celeriac are in season and readily available even in supermarkets. Kumquats, which resemble mini elongated oranges, can be eaten raw or cooked as in this topping sauce. Instead of the usual potatoes or rice for a side dish, celeriac, which belongs to the celery family and tastes like a cross between celery and parsley, can be mashed just as easily as potatoes. Even though celeriac is not as well known or popular, it makes a much more flavorful companion to various meats. And it only contains a fraction of the starch of a potato. Make this meal any day of the week, but it would feel extra impressive prepared for a special dinner this coming Sunday.
Pan-Seared Pork Medallions with Kumquat Marmalade and Celeriac Purée
Tip: Cook the kumquat marmalade and the celeriac at the same time. Start cooking the pork as they are finishing. Purée the celeriac while the pork rests.
for the kumquat marmalade
12 kumquats, quartered and seeded
1/2 cup orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
for the celeriac purée
1 large celeriac bulb, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground white pepper
for the pork medallions:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
To make kumquat marmalade, combine kumquats, orange juice, water, vinegar, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until mixture thickens to a syrup, about 30 minutes.
To make celeriac purée, bring 1 quart water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add celeriac, lemon juice, and salt. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Pour off almost all the cooking liquid, reserving 1/4 cup in the pot. Using an immersion blender, purée the celeriac with the cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare tenderloin, trim any fat and remove silver skin. Cut tenderloin crosswise into about 12 1-inch medallions. Place each medallion between layers of plastic wrap and pound with a smooth mallet to 1/2-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm oil in a skillet or sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Sear pork for 2 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Divide celeriac purée among four plates. Place 3 pork medallions per plate. Top pork with spoonfuls of kumquat marmalade. Yield: 4 servings.