Oven-Braised Pork Medallions
with Crispy Onions and Sweet Potatoes
Americans are obsessed with grilling. Grilling is ok, I guess. I like the smokey flavor, but I hate seeing all those juices disappear into the fire. Pan-searing your favorite hunk of meat creates the same wonderful crust. Add some moisture to the pan and you have my favorite, and highly under-utilized, method of cooking: braising. Because of the low-heat, moist cooking of braising it is practically fool-proof.
Braising is typically done right on the stove top. Sear, add liquid, lower heat, and let it braise. The oven can also be used to finish the process, leaving your burner open for something else, like frying some onions and sweet potatoes to crispy goodness.
I started with 4 pork loin chops, about 2 inches thick. These could also be center-cut pork tenderloin chops, or you could buy a pork tenderloin and cut it into medallions. I cut my chops in half, wrapped each one in a slice of bacon, and shoved them into a 9×9 glass baking dish. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and a generous amount of Worcestershire sauce for an easy marinade. Allow them to sit at room temperature and marinate for about an hour. Don’t let this scare you; room temperature is fine and room temperature meat will always cook more evenly than cold meat.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a dutch oven and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Add the pork chops and sear them on both sides.
Remove the chops back to the baking dish and pour about a cup of red wine into the Dutch oven to deglaze it. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up the stuck on bits. When the wine has reduced by about half and thickened up some pour it back over the pork chops. Cover them very loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and put them in the oven.
Wipe out the dutch oven a bit with some paper towel and return it to medium-high heat. Add about 2 inches of oil to the pot; peanut oil is best for frying and really worth the extra money. While the oil is heating cut an onion in half and slice into thin half-rings. Also cut 2 small sweet potatoes into thin strips. I used a mandolin with a julienne blade attachment, but you could also cut them into thin straws with a knife. There is no big hurry here since your pork is gently braising on low heat with plenty of moisture. Toss the onions and potato straws together and fry them in the oil in small batches until crispy. Remove the finished crispy straws to a paper towel covered plate and hold them in a warm spot. When ready to serve put the pork chops on the plates or a nice platter and top them with the crispy onions and potatoes.