Just over a month ago, you probably swore that you never wanted to cook another big dinner party again. The holiday season just has that ability to use up every last drop of our best intentions as hosts and hostesses.
But, now that the exhaustion is fading into memory, it's time to start entertaining again. And I've got a simple solution to help you ease yourself back into the role of gracious dinner party entertainer.
The trick is creating a main course that is absolutely elegant and yet takes just moments to prepare. And the only piece of kitchen equipment you need to make that happen is a good saute pan.
A saute pan with a heavy bottom that holds heat well and distributes it evenly is the perfect tool for searing meat, poultry, or seafood. And when you start with an already tender cut, in pieces thin enough to cook through in minutes, you can have your main course ready in seemingly no time at all. As a bonus, the act of searing on the bottom of the saute pan a golden glaze of caramelized juices that you can deglaze with flavorful liquid will produce a quick, delicious pan sauce your guests might think you'd been simmering for hours.
A fine example of this approach is my recipe for Sauteed Pork Medallions with Port Wine Sauce and Spinach. It's actually based on a recipe I've been making for more than three decades, originally featuring medallions of veal. But good veal can be costly, and some people have ethical objections to the meat (although you can certainly make the recipe using the now widely available humanely raised veal, to which I myself am committed).
Pork, however, has made a transition in recent years from the homespun meat it used to be to a leaner, more elegant option, with cuts like loin and tenderloin having not only less fat but also a tender, juicy texture, mild and sweet flavor, and pale color comparable to veal. So using pork loin, cut into the neat little rounds known descriptively as medallions, produces a main dish that not only looks elegant and tastes delicious but also costs far less than the veal version.
As part of the recipe, I include quickly wilted spinach, which adds a vegetable side that also serves to soak up the sauce. Serve some rice pilaf or potatoes along with it, start with a simple salad, end with a store-bought sorbet topped with fresh berries, and you have an incredibly elegant dinner party ready to serve with almost no effort at all.
You and your guests will have a wonderful time -- and, since it was so easy, you'll all probably want to entertain again very soon!
SAUTEED PORK MEDALLIONS IN PORT WINE SAUCE WITH SPINACH
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