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lots of pancetta plus a little pork


I was at Costco the other day (what’s new?) and was shopping for the “Tucson Roommate Dinner” when I spotted a new item – a huge roll of pancetta.  It was just too gorgeous and I couldn’t resist.  Now I have to think of dishes to make with my 2 pounds! Pancetta is an Italian bacon that is cured with salt, pepper, and other spices. It is dried for about three months but is not usually smoked. It comes from the pork belly only instead of the sides and belly of the pig, as American bacon does. It is sold in either thin slices or in a roll. Each region of Italy produces its own type of pancetta and in Corsica, it is considered a regional flavor. Since I really don’t want to have pancetta for dinner every night for two weeks, I will be freezing the excess. To do so, I will cut it into 1/2-inch pieces (each about 4 ounces) wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil, place all pieces in a freezer zip-lock; label with the contents and date, and freeze.

This recipe is pork with more pork. Pork tenderloin with little bits of pancetta inserted inside. The silver skin needs to be removed from the tenderloin, if you need instruction, please see the Tip Index under pages, to the left.  The sauce uses a reduced beef broth.  Be careful when reducing the broth. It seems to take a long time at first, but once it is reduced by half, the next reduction of half again goes quickly.  When reducing a liquid like this, keep a glass measuring cup next to the stove and when you think you’re getting close to the correct amount, just pour the liquid from the pan into the measuring cup.  Keep checking every couple of minutes near the end so you don’t go too far. If you happen to reduce it too much, just add water to correct it.

Pancetta Studded Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce

4 cups beef broth
1  1/2 to 2 pounds pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
3-ounce piece pancetta cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup peeled and finely minced shallot
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup cherry preserves or jam
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

Bring the 4 cups of beef broth to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan.  Boil until broth is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 23 to 25 minutes.  Watch carefully, it will take about 15 minutes for the broth to reduce to 2 cups, and after that, it goes quickly, so checks often.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pat pork dry with paper towels and cut 1/2-inch-deep slits at 1-inch intervals all over tenderloins, then insert 1 piece of pancetta into each slit. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Heat only 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until just smoking, then brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a small roasting pan, and set aside the skillet.

Roast pork in the middle of the oven until an instant-read thermometer is inserted diagonally 2 inches into the center registering 150 degrees, for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 5 to 7 minutes.

Make sauce while the meat stands, heat the skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon oil and then sauté shallots and rosemary for 1 minute, add the garlic and continue to sauté until shallots are golden, another minute or two. Add red wine and deglaze the pan by boiling and scraping up brown bits, until the liquid is reduced by about one-third.  Add reduced beef stock and cherry jam and simmer, whisking, until jam is incorporated about 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 bit at a time, whisking until incorporated, add in any meat juices that have accumulated on the roasting pan, then remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer meat to a cutting board and slice on a diagonal, serve with sauce.

Serves  4

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