During one of my recent jaunts to Trader Joe’s, I had to stop and ask one of the staff there if they were out of the Sweet Chili Sauce I use in my Cheater Chutney. While I was waiting for him to check the stock in the back, I meandered around and checked out what was new in the meat department. New marinated steaks and lamb were just added to their stock, but it was a beautifully lean pork loin that caught my eye. Not only was it lean and perfectly pink (you fellow foodies understand great finds like this), it was literally $4.49. Mind you, I don’t shop for pork that often because I’m more of a chicken and seafood girl, but I’m pretty sure something of this quality is not usually priced so low. Since I promised myself I’d start buying outside of my comfort zone so I could come up with some new recipes, and because I knew I had a bunch of new potatoes at home, I threw it in my basket.
I wanted to stay away from more traditional pork recipes that tend to pair the meat with apples. Though it’s a perfect pairing because the sweetness of the apples enhances the flavor of the pork, I wanted to try something new. I’m currently obsessed with making glazes and thought one with balsamic vinegar and honey would complement the pork beautifully. I also wanted to cook the potatoes differently, and though I’m not too keen on fried foods, I figured making some shredded potato pancakes would be a nice change. I’d been craving some really crispy potatoes so this seemed perfect.
This recipe is a prime example of how to make something that looks like expensive restaurant fare right at home for a very low price. Though this looks like something you could get at a restaurant that charges about $15/entrée, this recipe literally costs about $3/person for 4 servings. As one of my favorite college professors used to say all the time, presentation is everything. This definitely applies to food. Sure, mashed potatoes are incredibly tasty, but these little potato pancakes are a lot prettier. These are also fun to make and you can get your older kids involved in peeling & shredding the potatoes. Now, on with this super easy, but very tasty recipe!
Pork Loin Medallions with Balsamic Honey Glaze over New Potato Pancakes (serves 4; Total Cost: $3/person)
1 lb lean pork loin
10-15 new potatoes (any potato will do in a pinch)
1 egg white
½ c honey
¼ c balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
½ c vegetable oil for frying
¼ t salt
1/8 t ground pepper
Extra pinches of salt & pepper (for potatoes)
Parsley or cilantro for garnish
Make the glaze by combining the balsamic vinegar and honey in a bowl and mixing together well until completely smooth. Set aside.
Peel and shred the potatoes into a large bowl. Since the shredding process will extract quite a bit of liquid from the potatoes, you may need to drain them in a colander. Some moisture is okay, but you want to make sure that they’re as dry as possible. Season with a couple pinches of salt & pepper. Lightly beat the egg white and add to the shredded potatoes, mixing together until completely coated. This will act as a binder to make sure they stay together during the frying process. In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until it becomes iridescent. You can test the oil’s heat by flicking a couple drops of water (carefully!) and if it starts to pop, you're good to go. Take a small handful of the potato mixture and arrange into a “pancake” about 3” in diameter. Gently place the pancake into the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until both sides are a nice golden brown (like hash browns). Once cooked, remove from oil and place on a plate with plenty of paper towels for draining excess oil. Depending on the size of your pan, you can probably make 3 or 4 of these at a time.
Cut the pork loin into medallions about ¾” in size. Season both sides of each medallion lightly with salt & pepper. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When pan is heated, add a couple of pork medallions and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Do not overcook! When all the pork is cooked, add about half the glaze to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. If you like, you can place the pork back in the pan with hot glaze to coat lightly for extra flavor.
Arrange 3 or 4 potato pancakes on a plate. Top with 3 pork medallions, drizzle dish with remaining glaze, garnish with parsley or cilantro, and enjoy!