I am always quite nervous when Caroline says to me. "Oh my Mama used to make the most amazing... " and the amazing could be anything from a puffy Yorkshire Pudding to a magnificent Hazelnut Dacquoise. The nerves kick in and I never feel like I am going to do it justice. A couple of weeks before Christmas I asked Caroline what she would like for Sunday lunch. She said she'd like her mothers Tenderloin Of Pork Stuffed With Prunes, oh and a creamy sauce, oh and there was a recipe somewhere.
Cue dry mouth and sweaty palms. Of course I have cooked tenderloin of pork many times in various different ways with and without creamy sauces, but I know my wife. It has to be just so. My investigative questions begin.
Me: "Did she soak the prunes before hand"
Caro: "No I don't think so, although she may have"
Me: " Did she wrap the pork in bacon or pancetta?"
Caro: "No, she just panfried it, you know...just panfried"
Me: " Helpful !"
Me: " What was in the sauce?"
Caro " Umm cream, stock, brandy or something similar"
Me: " Madeira?"
Caro " Umm maybe, sometimes..."
Armed with this information, I try to find my late mother-in-law's recipe amongst all the other recipes in Caroline's file. Nadda. So I sit, with my coffee and try to remember the last time I cooked pork tenderloin. Then I make a monumental decision. This is not taken lightly. I draw my last mouthful of coffee and head back to Caroline.
Me: "I've made a decision about the pork"
Caro: " Have you darling? And? ..."
Me: I am just going to my own version. I'll never be able to make it the way your Mama made it, the same way no one will ever ( including me) be able to replicate any of my Mama's dishes. This was her signature dish, I am not going there ! "
Caro: " Ok darling, I wasn't meaning you to feel pressurised, of course do your own thing, I am sure it will be delicious"
Btw have I ever mentioned that it is actually Caroline who is the trained chef? Me, I am self taught, like the chap who owns that magnificent manor house and gardens in Oxfordshire, my hero - Raymond Blanc.
So, here is my version of Tenderloin of Pork Stuffed With Madeira Soaked Prunes
For the Pork Tenderloin
1 large organic tenderloin of pork ( 1.3 kg should easily feed 4)
A small tin of prunes, stones in in natural juice
A glass of Madeira
Six slices of wafer thin Bayonne ham
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce
A generous knob of butter
A handful of very finely chopped shallots ( about 3 large shallots)
A pint of good chicken stock
A large pinch of fines herbes
The retained madeira and prune juice
Salt and pepper to taste
50ml of double cream
Pour the prunes into a bowl including the juices and add the Madeira. Stir then cover and refrigerate overnight. You can leave them longer if you're not cooking your pork for a few days. If you're time limited try and give them at least 2 hours before cooking the pork.
Remove the tenderloin from the fridge at least an hour before cooking to bring it back up to room temperature. Place the pork on a large board and using a very sharp knife, butterfly open the tenderloin so that it resembles a rectangular slab of meat, rather than circular. Tenderise the meat using either a meat tenderiser of a rolling pin. Once this has been done lightly season the meat and place on a plate. Wipe down the board and lay the slices of ham on the board just slightly overlapping. Place the pork on top of the ham and put to one side.
Drain the prunes, reserving the juices for the sauce later. Roughly chop the prunes then place in the centre of the meat. Don't overfill as the prunes will simply squish out and rolling will be difficult. Start rolling the pork into a sausage shape by lifting the ham and delicately rolling with your finger tips. You can use cellophane wrapping for this to get the "perfect" shape but I prefer to do it free hand. Using a fish slice or similar, pick up the wrapped tenderloin and place on a plate before returning to the fridge for 30 minutes.
This gives you time to pre-heat the oven 325 F ( Gas mark 3) and finely chop the shallots and fines herbes. For this recipe I am using traditional parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. Once the 30 minutes is up remove the pork from the fridge, bring back up to room temperature for 10 minutes then place in the oven for 90 minutes.
Now for the sauce. Place a generous knob of butter in a heavy based sauté pan. Add in the shallots. Continue to sauté until softened then add the stock and prune and Madeira juice and reduce. Once reduced leave until after the pork has been removed from the oven and is resting. Once the pork is resting, bring the heat up to a gentle simmer and add the cream and fines herbes. Stir gently to combine everything and season to taste.
Once the pork has rested for a 15 minutes of so, slice in to equal medallions and place on each plate drizzling the creamy Madeira sauce. Serve with season vegetables and a large glass of Berenger.