As I mentioned in a previous post, numerous easy recipes clogged my inbox. But one stood out from the rest. The one where a friend took a stand and said, “Let’s do this. What time works for you this weekend and let’s get this mother fucking show on the road.”
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Honestly, if she hadn’t come over, I would’ve languished in reading the recipes over and over, figuring it would just come together at the last minute. Or maybe I would’ve caved in and called my friend Marc, “Come on over. Work your magic. I’ve got the boiling part down, but know nothing else.” Surely, I would have figured out a way to feed the guy, but it wouldn’t have been genuine.
You learn by doing and I wasn’t doing shit. I just kept reading the recipes, deciding, stressing. Mind over matter, I figured. No sweat, I could do this at the last minute. Why practice and do it now?
Tara insisted on coming over. She sent me the link to the recipe and told me she would help me over the weekend. Sauteed chanterelles with garlic and shallots and grilled bread, pork tenderloin encrusted in aged jack cheese served with baby spinach and a honey and mustard dressing, and madeleines with warm raspberry dipping sauce. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! What the fuck is a chanterelle? What the fucking fuck is a shallot? I got to Safeway’s and started heaving. I tried to calm myself down. Ok, ok, baby steps. We’ll just do the main course. I’m sure I can do the rest later.
For the pork:
1 1/4-pound/555-g pork tenderloin
1 1/4 cups/85 g fresh bread crumbs made from sourdough bread
1 1/3 cups/55 g finely grated aged Jack cheese
2 large eggs
All purpose flour, for dredging
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons/60 g butter
2 tablespoons/30 ml extra virgin olive oil
I started with trying to locate the cheese–which was first on my pathway through the store. I went round and round the bin, but couldn’t find any aged jack cheese. Should I go with a different type of aged cheese or just plain jack cheese? I went for the plain jack cheese. Sheesh! This is so stressful.
Yey, I have eggs, flour, salt, pepper, butter, and olive oil. What a relief.
No joke, there wasn’t a single loaf of sourdough bread at the store. What to do? I found bread crumbs, but they were bread crumbs made from French bread. Is this going to work? It says the bread crumbs should be from fresh sourdough bread. Again, this was all very perplexing to me. I opted for the cannister of bread crumbs.
Lastly, the meat. Hallelujah, they had a beautiful package of thinly cut pork tenderloin. I had all the ingredients. Time to cook!
I think Tara was a little disappointed that I was only prepared to do the main course, but still, she was peppy and encouraging. “Alright, isn’t this exciting?” she asked as we laid out the ingredients.
I looked at her coolly. “No.”
“Oh come on. This is going to be fun.”
I was honest. “No, I’m terrified. I’m glad you’re here, but no. This is not fun.”
My honesty failed to dissuade her. “I think this is great. Cooking’s so much fun. And you’ll get to the point where you don’t even have to be meticulous with the ingredients. You’ll just add a dab of this and a dab of that. It gets easier and easier.”
I rolled my eyes and continued prepping.
For the pork:
Place the pork between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or heavy rolling pin, gently pound the pork until flattened to ½ inch/1.3 cm thick. Cut the pork into 4 equal pieces.
Mix the bread crumbs and Jack cheese together in a pie plate. Lightly whisk the eggs in another pie plate to blend. Place the flour in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt and pepper. Dip the pork pieces into the flour to coat lightly, then into the eggs and finally into the bread crumb mixture to coat, patting the crumb mixture to adhere.
Melt 2 tablespoons/30 g of butter with 1 tablespoon/15 ml of oil in each of 2 large nonstick frying pans over a medium to high heat. Add 2 pork pieces to each pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and just cooked through.
Transfer the cooked pork to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil and butter. Cut the pork pieces in half. Mound the spinach on 4 plates. Arrange the pork on the spinach and serve.
We figured the pork I purchased was thin enough. We skipped the pounding step. Tara advised me to make fresh bread crumbs for the date, but the cannister of bread crumbs would be fine for us. She was being really good and encouraging throughout the whole process. We got to grating the cheese and realized that I probably should have opted for any type of aged cheese rather than the jack cheese. The jack cheese was too soft to grate. After following the rest of the instructions, we set the meat aside to cool.
Tara then cut the breaded pork tenderloin to try. We each stuck a sliver in our mouth, then started jumping up and down. “MMMMMMmmmm!!! It’s good!!!” We both screamed and jumped up and down like little kids.
“See isn’t this fun?” Tara asked again.
“So fun! SO FUN!”