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Sliced Pork Tenderloin, Venetian Style
By Charlie Burke

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The eggplant caponata from a recent column received more favorable comment
than any recent recipe, and I think the reason is that it highlights “agrodolce”, the
balance of sweet and sour which is uniquely Italian in Mediterranean cuisine.

In Venice, sautéed sole is marinated with sweet onion, sugar and vinegar with
raisins and pine nuts and served at room temperature. Its flavors much like
caponata, this sole preparation is a treasured Venetian tradition and appears
frequently on festive menus.  I recalled seeing a recipe using meat with this
preparation and decided to try it with
pork tenderloin. I’ve found that pork
tenderloin, sliced and pounded thin, works well in any recipe calling for veal
scaloppini or pounded chicken breasts. I avoid using veal and find that pork has
more flavor than chicken, unless I’m able to find free range local chicken.

Using this sole preparation with very thin slices of pork tenderloin really worked
served hot, but we’ve had the leftovers served at room temperature, and the
flavors seemed to have become richer as the meat stayed in the sauce. Lemon is
frequently used with fish and meat, so the use of vinegar should not be much of
a reach for our palates, and the small amount of raisins and pine nuts provide
background flavor and texture for a different take on sautéed meat. It is delicious
at room temperature, so it is perfect for making ahead for easy entertaining.

Four servings:

1 pork tenderloin, approximately one pound, cut into ½ inch slices
2 large Vidalia or Spanish Sweet onions, sliced very thin
¼ cup or more extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Place raisins in the red wine vinegar and the water.

Pound each pork slice between plastic wrap until very thin. If you do not have a
meat pounder, a small heavy pan works well. Put a cup of flour on a flat plate
and mix in salt and pepper. Season pork with salt and pepper and put pork and
flour aside while cooking onions.

Place a large sauté pan over low heat, add half the oil and the onions. Cook
covered, stirring frequently until onions are soft and slightly coloredbut not
browned. Remove cover and continue until water from onions is evaporated.
Remove onion, draining oil back into the pan.

Place pan over medium-high heat, add remaining oil, and when oil is
shimmering lightly dust pork slices, shaking off excess flour. Sauté slices in
batches, turning when edges become opaque. Do not crowd the slices in the pan
and cook until just done, a total of less than 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.  
Set pork on a serving platter as it is cooked and cover with foil to keep warm.

Place onions back into the sauté pan, add raisins and the vinegar/water mixture
and the pine nuts. Cook over high heat, stirring for 2 -3 minutes, remove from
heat and add balsamic vinegar. Taste, adding salt, pepper or more balsamic
vinegar to taste.

Pour the onion mixture over the pork slices and serve. Sautéed spinach or Swiss
chard goes well with the assertive taste of the pork, as do either steamed new
potatoes or rice. For the wine, try a dry Riesling, perhaps the most versatile (and
overlooked) of white wines, and see why this sauce is such an Italian favorite.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer'sMarket Association, president of the NH Farm to
Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along with
his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill
Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Sliced Pork Tenderloin, Venetian-Style. Click here for more recipes...
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