When my kids were young and I was learning how to cook, I’d always ask after I served a dish, “Is it a make-againer?”
There were always mixed responses back then, as you can imagine, and rarely the resounding “Yes!” But the kids were always creative in their food criticism: “What is this, fart dip?”(Ok, no more anchovies). Or, “I don’t want that cheese plop again.” (Ok, no more Emmenthaler).
But my daughter declared this to be a “plate-licker.” Clearly, we’re headed in the right direction.
1½ lbs pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt,
2 cloves garlic, minced small bunch basil, finely chopped (about 6 leaves)
8 oz. sliced bacon
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Set your oven to 350. Mix cream cheese, paprika, basil, sea salt and garlic for the filling in a small bowl.
Trim the tenderloin and season with pepper all around. Cut it length-wise to make a pocket for the filling. Add half of the filling to the pocket and try to close it by pushing the sides together.
Wrap the bacon slices around to seal.
Heat butter and olive oil in an oven-safe pan and add the mushrooms.
Move the mushrooms to the sides after a minute or two and place the loin in the center. Brown for a minute or two on all sides.
Bake in the oven until the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 170 - about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven when done, and place the loin on a cutting board covered with foil to rest, leaving the mushrooms in the pan.
Tilt the pan, and using a paper towel, remove what bacon grease you can from the pan.
Pour in the heavy cream and the rest of the filling. Bring to a light boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Season with pepper to taste.
Slice the meat and plate.
Using a slotted spoon, top the plates with the creamy mushrooms. I recommend a slotted spoon because you really only need a little bit of the sauce.
My preference would be a full-bodies, oak-y Chardonnay with this dish, but my daughter loves Reislings so we settled on the Albrecht Riesling Tradition, and it was great. It’s dryer than I would normally like but with the smoky creamy sweetness of the filling and sauce, it was perfect.
While my cooking skills have definitely improved over 30 years or so, my photography skills have decidedly not (as I’m told from time to time). It’s absolutely true. But if I have to choose which skills I’ll hone at my age, I guess I’ll keep trying to perfect the culinary, and leave the non-gustatory aesthetics to Bruce Burk or Mark Leary ;)