Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin Wild Boar-Style with Shiitake Mushrooms

Filetto di Maiale alla Moda del Cinghiale con Funghi di Bosco

What I like about game is the method by which it is prepared, the long marinade with wine and herbs that produces dense, sumptuous flavor. What I don’t particularly like is the undomesticated taste of game itself, especially the furred varieties.

Boar are plentiful in Italy, especially in Tuscany and Umbria, for whose vineyards they are something of a menace, feeding on the young plantings. Grape growers retaliate by turning the pests into boar sausages, boar prosciutto, and dishes such as the one below.

Instead of boar, I have used pork, whose tenderloin is so much more succulent. Otherwise I have followed the classic procedure, marinating the meat overnight in olive oil, onion, garlic, herbs, and red wine. My husband suggests that the ideal wine to use would be Rosso di Montalcino. Like its sibling, Brunello di Montalcino, it is made from the sangiovese grape, whose juicy, fruity quality is exactly what you want in a marinade. Other Italian red wines from that same grape, such as Chianti or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, would be good choices, or you may turn with comparably good results to a Rhône, a California merlot, or an Australian shiraz, among others.

Had I fresh porcini mushrooms available I would unquestionably use those, but when there are none in the market, I am content with fresh shiitake caps. I cook the shiitake in butter because it gives them a luscious mouth feel recalling that of porcini, but if you’d rather use olive oil, as in the rest of the recipe, you may.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2 pieces
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly mashed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 4 or 5 whole bay leaves
  • ½ cup finely cut celery, both stalk and leaves
  • Rosemary leaves, 1 tablespoon if fresh, ½ tablespoon if dried, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine; see headnote for suggestions
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter; see headnote
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh

Method

  1. Choose a deep rectangular or oval dish that can contain the meat and all the other ingredients except for the mushrooms, and put the pork tenderloin into it along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion, garlic, bay leaves, celery, rosemary, and red wine. Turn the meat over several times to coat it well, then cover the dish with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Take it out occasionally whenever convenient to turn the pork over, basting it with its marinade.
  2. The following day, take the meat out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before proceeding with the preparation of the dish. Turn it over and baste it when you take it out of the refrigerator, and once every half hour thereafter.
  3. Detach the mushroom caps from the stems, discarding the stems. Wash the caps quickly in running cold water without letting them soak. Pat them dry gently but thoroughly with a cloth towel, and cut them into thin slices.
  4. Lift the tenderloin out of the deep dish, pick out any bits of the vegetables from the marinade that may be sticking to it, and pat the meat dry with kitchen towels.
  5. Choose a skillet that can accommodate the two pieces of pork without their overlapping, put in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when you put in the meat, slip in both pieces. Turn the meat over to brown it evenly all around, then transfer it to a platter.
  6. Pour all the marinade from the deep dish into the skillet, turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are very soft or almost dissolved.
  7. While the marinade is cooking, put 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet, turn the heat on to medium, and add the sliced shiitake caps with some salt. Cook, turning the mushrooms over occasionally, until the liquid they shed evaporates completely and they have become very tender.
  8. When the vegetables of the marinade are very soft, add the cooked shiitake, cooking them together for about a minute or two. Add both pieces of pork, sprinkling them with salt and several grindings of black pepper, and raise the heat to high. Cook the meat for 10 minutes on one side, then turn it over and cook the other side for another 10 minutes.
  9. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cut it into slices about inch thick, and place the slices on a very warm serving platter. Remove the bay leaves from the marinade—and the garlic cloves, if you can find them—then cover the meat with the cooked marinade and mushrooms and serve at once.

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