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Recipes and Stories

25 August 2012: Annabella Hill’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions

Mrs. Hill's Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Sage Butter, 1867

25 August 2012: Annabella Hill’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions

While working on a story for a Labor Day backyard party, I kept coming across articles that were reaching (or should we say, stretching) for something new and different—and with very little real success. What they generally ended up with was the same old things with a different sauce slathered onto it.

I, on the other hand, did what I probably do too often: went looking backward for something old and yet lovely and half forgotten. And in Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, published back in 1867, I found just the thing, a handsome recipe for broiled pork “steaks” finished in herb butter. It looks—and tastes—like something cutting edge and new—and yet it’s a hundred and fifty years old.

What’s more, it was something I’d seen before and even published in Classical Southern Cooking. And there-in lies the lesson: first, there’s really nothing new under the sun, and second, if you really want to wow your company, something “new” is probably not going to do it. Find something that you’ve done before and done well.

In Mrs. Hill's day, broiling was accomplished on a gridiron over hardwood coals, what we would call grilling today. And in her day, “steak” was used more liberally than it is now. She preferred them cut from the tenderloin, what we would today called pork medallions, and she rolled them flat into a thin cutlet, exactly like a scaloppine. And, just like scaloppine, cook very quickly. Keep careful watch over them once they go onto the grill.

Annabella Hill's Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Sage Butter, 1867
Serves 6

1 pair pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds
Salt and whole black pepper in a peppermill
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
10 to 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 8 to 10 whole dried sage leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Prepare grill with hardwood coals and let burn to medium-hot fire. Trim tenderloins of silver skin and cut crosswise into 1-inch thick medallions. Lightly pound with a mallet to ¼-inch thickness. They will be broad and flat, like a scaloppine. Rub both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Blend sage and butter together and season lightly with salt and pepper. When ready to cook tenderloin medallions, have butter and a warm platter ready by grill.

3. Position a grill rack about 4-6 inches above the coals and let get hot. Brush pork with olive oil and put on hot grill rack, cover, and grill 2-3 minutes, or until browned on bottom. Turn and grill until both sides are brown and pork is done to your taste, about 2 minutes longer. Immediately transfer to platter, top with butter, and turn rapidly to melt butter and coat medallions. Serve immediately.

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