Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pretzel Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Dijon Ale Reduction

Instead of the usual fall sausages around the time of Oktoberfest, this year needed an update.  No brats or kraut, we've pounded our fair share of that down the pipe this summer.  If you're from Wisconsin, your fair share is almost double that of non-residents.  That is fair.  I've always wanted to make my own schnitzel, but when you have Resi's nearby, and this 'more recent' place across the street, it's too easy to let them do it for you.  By the way, that's letting them do it the way they have been for decades.  Their ancestors back in the Motherland going on centuries.  So let's start by keeping the pork as the main focus- and then add some German/Austrian influence.  Do Germans like beer? I believe they and the Czechs always lead the world in liters per person consumption.  Mustard? Of course.  The pretzel was born in Bavaria somewhere.  Or at least that's how the story on wiki is told, if you wanna believe it.  It's not a certified piece of information like an encyclopedia.  The memory of using those things makes me feel oooold.  And the taste of this pork loin with a pretzel crust, drizzled with ale mustard sauce makes me feel gooood. 
I recommend small pretzels sticks or twists to maximize the surface ratio of tasty browned pretzel bits to not browned pretzel bits.  I doubled the recipe to accommodate 2 tenderloins, as I needed some leftover porky goodness to serve others.  Do the math if you only want to prepare 1 tenderloin.  I didn't find time to brine the pork, but that would be a lovely touch if you did.  A simple solution of salt, sugar, half a beer, some garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs would complement well.  Speaking of ratios, this book (and now an app version) is a great read.

What is the best part of making this German pub-worthy meal at home? You don't have to drink Spaten or Hofbrau or Paulaner off the tap, if you prefer not to imbibe that way.  I must be getting old, but I can't handle the tap German beers anymore.  Which at a summer festival in a German neighborhood with giant beers and sausages, lederhosen, and polka bands everywhere, it's not easy to find an alternative.  The dark stuff, the light stuff, it all ends the same- me feeling like I was run over by a BMW on the autobahn, head-first.  A bottle of Goose Island Harvest Ale was sooooo much better.  You know what else I have liked lately? Cider! Just kidding, I haven't jumped on that bandwagon, (and don't plan on it) but cider has become the latest beverage.  I'll stick to some seasonal brews, and a year round favorite in this delicious IPA
Pretzel Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Dijon Ale Reduction
6-8 servings

For the beer mustard sauce-
1/3 C pale ale
5 whole black peppercorns
1 medium shallot, diced (bout 2 TB)
1 C heavy cream
1 TB dijon mustard
1 ts grainy mustard

For the protein-
1/2 C AP flour
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 lb ea
2 TB pale ale
1 TB dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1 C crushed pretzels

Fire up the hotbox to 350F, season the meat with S&P and let come to room temp.  Bust out your breading pans- I find 9" pie pans work great.  Add the flour to one and season with a sprinkle of S&P.  Add the eggs, beer, and mustard to another, whisk with a fork to combine.  Roll the loins in flour, shake off the excess, then dredge in the egg mixture, letting any superfluous run off.  On a rimmed sheet pan, lay out the pretzels and then place the loins on top, rolling around and pressing to adhere the pretzel to the pork.  Place onto another sheet pan lined with parchment paper, for easy clean up.  If you don't have any parch no worries, just more elbow grease.  Similar to grilling pork tenderloin, fold in the tapered end by a couple inches or so to form an even loin, so it does not overcook.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until temp reaches 155F at the thickest part- then let rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing.

While the tenderloins are baking, add the pale ale (or as close as you can get) to a medium saucepan.  Toss in a pinch of peppercorns and the shallot.  Reduce by half over medium-high heat, then strain to remove the pepper and shallot, return to the saucepan and turn down the heat to medium-low.  Add the mustards and then the cream, slowly while stirring.  Simmer until reduced a bit  further- not quite by half, until desired consistency.  Season with S&P to taste.  Spoon over sliced pork and Prosit!

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