Sunday, February 26, 2012

Caramelized Pork Medallions with Vanilla Bean, Pearl Onions and Braised Tuscan Kale

One of the many things I love about the Robert Sinskey Vineyards wine club is exploring new ingredients and flavor combinations.  I love vanilla, but hadn't used it in a savory dish or in the form of vanilla bean paste.  The "culinary gift" in a recent club shipment was a jar of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste. 

Vanilla bean paste has the pure flavor of vanilla beans, and those wonderful little flecks of vanilla, without the fuss of splitting and scraping the beans.  And without the lingering flavor of alcohol that comes with vanilla extract. 

I'm hooked.

And a word about kale, which is one of our favorite foods.  Kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet; one cup contains 36 calories (before adding olive oil, haha), 5 grams of fiber and a ton of essential vitamins and minerals.  It's loaded with anti-cancer antioxidants and also rich in nutrients associated with eye health.  So go get yourself some kale.

This meal, with a glass (or two) of Sinskey pinot is pure heaven.

Caramelized Pork Medallions with Vanilla Bean, Pearl Onions, Braised Tuscan Kale and Rutabagas
This meal used a combination of a few recipes that came with a recent Sinskey club shipment.  The original recipes can be found online at the Robert Sinskey Vineyards web site.

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sauteed Pearl Onions (recipe below)
Caramelized Rutabagas (recipe below)
Braised Tuscan kale (recipe below)
2 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Prepare the tenderloin by trimming excess fat and removing any sinew.

Prepare the marinade for the pork by whisking together the vanilla bean paste, kosher salt, a pinch of black pepper, and olive oil.  Rub the outside of the pork with the marinade, then put the pork and marinade in a non-reactive container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking, to allow them to come to room temperature.

Grill the pork tenderloin over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove to a plate to rest, and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.

Pearl Onions:
10 pearl onions, peeled and trimmed (save yourself time and effort by using frozen)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken stock

Saute the pearl onions in the butter for 7-10 minutes until they are golden brown; season with salt and pepper.  Add the red wine and continue to cook until the wine is almost fully reduced and the pan dry; add the stock and reduce by about two-thirds.  Season again to taste with salt and pepper.

Caramelized  Rutabagas:
3 medium rutabagas
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice rutabagas into 1/4 inch matchsticks (they'll look like french fries).

Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it begins to brown.  Add the rutabaga matchsticks and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Put the saute pan in the preheated oven and roast for about another 10 minutes, until the rutabagas are tender.

Braised Tuscan Kale:
1 small bunch Tuscan kale
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes

Prepare the kale by removing the tough center rib and cut into 1-inch strips crosswise.  Place it in a large bowl of water to clean; stir the kale around in the water; then lift out and dry on paper towels.  Do not drain the kale through a colander, as this will leave behind all the dirt with the kale.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sliced garlic and lightly toast.

Carefully add the kale.  There will be a little water left on the kale, and it will cause the oil to spatter, so stand back a little to avoid burning yourself.  Quickly toss the kale with tongs to evenly distribute the oil.

Add the chili flakes, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan.  cook for 10-15 minutes until the kale is tender.  Add a little water if the pan becomes too dry before the kale is cooked.

To Serve:
Plate the meal by putting the kale in the middle a plate or in a shallow serving bowl; arrange rutabaga matchsticks around the kale; slice the pork tenderloin and arrange over the top; spoon the caramelized onions over the top of the pork and drizzle with the thickened pan juices; finally, sprinkle with chopped parsley.


  1. Love the new blog format. Very bright and easy to maneuver and...roomy. ;)

    The pork looks DeLish. Rutabagas have eluded my kitchen mostly because I haven't been sure what to do with them. I have consumed a lot of Tuscan kale in my smoothies each morning, so it is probably time to have some savory kale for dinner.
    Thanks for sharing this meal!

    1. I saw another recipe the other day for rutabaga french fries . . . may try those soon!