On my mother-in-law’s birthday my husband told me she would be coming to our house for dinner. One thing about my mother-in-law? She hates everything. All gifts, all food, and most people. Panicking, I racked my brain for something to make her. I realized she would probably hate whatever I choose so I took a stand and made what I wanted to make: pork tenderloin medallions with a pear brandy cream sauce over basmati rice, with haricots verts on the side and 2010 Ponte Chardonnay to drink. Even though the food (however fabulous it would turn out) would be irrelevant in her mind, I figured the wine might brighten the mood a bit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Upon sitting down, she mentioned that she rarely likes pork, and she doesn’t like sauce with alcohol in it. I just smiled, set the food down and poured the wine. The table was eerily quiet. No one spoke. The sound of forks on plates permeated my ears. I worried about what negativity might break the silence…but to my complete and utter surprise, she loved everything! I felt like turning to my husband and quoting the old Life cereal commercial: “Hey, Mikey likes it!” Although she is happier with a glass of wine in hand (who isn’t?), I think the perfect pairing of the food and wine made the entire experience an epicurean delight for all of us. The pork and Chardonnay were, in a word, lovely together. The sweet, savory combination of the pork and cream sauce paired with the vanilla, pear and butterscotch flavors of the Chardonnay could not have been more perfect.
Ok, so my mother-in-law doesn’t hate everything. And as it turns out, she loves us. The food and wine are irrelevant to that. Sure, she complained. Sure, she obsessed – but that wasn’t the point of the evening. She could have chosen to do anything for her birthday, to go anywhere and she chose to be with us. While she really does hate (almost) everything, this occasion was delicious and memorable for all of us.
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with a Pear Brandy Cream Sauce
- 1 ¼ lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch thick slices
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, divided
- 4 firm but ripe pears, any varietal (Anjou is nice), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3 inch thick wedges
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 1 ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ cup brandy
- ¼ cup butterscotch liqueur
- 1 cup whipping cream
- ½ cup (or more to taste) pear nectar
Place pork slices between plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound slices to ¼ inch thickness. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pears and sugar and sauté until pears are tender and deep golden in color, about 8 minutes.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in another large, nonstick skillet over high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add pork to skillet and sauté until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and cover. Reduce heat on pan to medium. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet. Add shallots and thyme and sauté 2 minutes. Add brandy and liqueur and boil until reduced to a glaze, scraping up any browned bits, about 2 minutes. Add cream and pear nectar. Boil until thickened to a sauce consistency, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reheat pears if necessary. Spoon pears into the center of a large, shallow serving bowl or platter. Arrange pork around pears and pour sauce over the pork.
Serve with basmati rice and 2010 Ponte Chardonnay, to drink.
–Michelle V., Tasting Room Server