Sautéed Pork Loin with Mustard and Grapes

kitchenWhen I was in High School my Mom and I threw all kinds of dinner parties. (Actually she threw the parties and I helped cook.) Our favorite dish was Veal Scaloppine. I liked it no matter how it was cooked or sauced. It seemed so elegant to us, and there were so manygood recipes for it in our favorite cookbook, Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook. In retrospect, I realize that my fondness for veal scaloppini is based on my love of sauce. Veal, in its velvety blandness, is merely the perfect excuse for sauce.

There was a rumor at the time, horrifying to me, that some Italian restaurants were substituting pork scaloppini for veal because it was so much cheaper and the guests never knew the difference. We didn’t eat pork at home, so I had no point of reference, but now I have come to appreciate pork in all forms, and I agree that pork scaloppini, cut from the new lean loin and tenderloin, is also a great backdrop for sauces. See for yourself. (As far as I am concerned, the pork industry has succeeded in its campaign to make pork into the “other white meat.”) This is a really quick weeknight meal, and the kids will probably be open to it because of the grapes.

Serves 4

Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices boneless pork loin, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sprinkle a small amount of water on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Place 2 of the pork slices on top of the plastic and sprinkle again with water. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining pork.

Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow pie plate. Heat half the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until almost smoking. Working in 2 batches, place the pork in the flour mixture and turn to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess flour and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining butter, oil, and pork.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the onion and grapes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the onions are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine, and bring to a boil. Cook rapidly, stirring to pick up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Add the stock and sugar and boil until reduced by half. Reduce the heat to medium and return the pork to the skillet with any accumulated juices. Simmer gently until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pork to a large heated platter. Remove the skillet from the heat, whisk in the mustard, and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pork and serve hot.

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