This delicious dish is simple enough for family meal, yet elegant for special dinner party
It seems to me that people who love to cook at home often have two separate styles of recipes that they rely on. First come the everyday dishes that they make week after week for their family and any close friends who might drop by -- simple, straightforward, delicious food they can cook quickly and easily with minimal fuss. And then there are more elaborate, special-occasion dishes that they only make to impress their guests at special dinner parties.
I think, however, that the very nature of special occasion entertaining has changed over the years. More and more hosts and guests alike prefer that dinner parties feel like relaxed family-style meals -- occasions at which you don't have to dress up in uncomfortable clothes, worry whether you're using the right fork, or be extra cautious not to drip your red wine on the fancy tablecloth. Good food that feels more like a family supper puts everyone at ease gathered around the table at happy ease.
That's why, right now, when you're probably still thinking about how you'd like to change the way you cook and entertain this year, I'd like to share a favorite recipe of mine that is equally welcome and easy to prepare whether you serve it to your loved ones on a weeknight or present it to weekend dinner party guests. It's my pork medallions on apple compote with black pepper cider sauce.
Pork is a really home-style choice of meat, and it's usually so reasonably priced. Yet, when you choose a piece of boneless pork loin and ask the butcher in your supermarket to cut it into the medallion-shaped pieces called for in the recipe, you have a main ingredient that looks surprisingly elegant for a special party. The medallions also cook very quickly, which makes them a perfect choice for a family meal. (You could also prepare a similar version of the dish substituting medallions of lamb, slices of boneless turkey breast, or even boneless and skinless chicken breast halves.)
The apple compote beneath the pork is also an appealingly homey preparation. Yet, a few easy special touches -- some apple cider jelly and splashes of white wine and cream -- transform the compote into something surprisingly elegant. The same goes for the sauce spooned over the pork, which gains its own bright flavor from the cider jelly plus some coarsely crushed black peppercorns.
Those three easily assembled elements add up to a dish that looks like something a fine restaurant might serve, yet tastes like the best in comfort food. In other words, it offers the best of both worlds, making it a recipe I hope you'll want to prepare again and again, whatever the occasion.
PORK MEDALLIONS ON APPLE COMPOTE WITH BLACK PEPPER CIDER SAUCE
For the black pepper cider sauce:
1 cup (250 mL) good-quality canned chicken stock or broth, plus a little extra if needed