This classic dish is easy and company-worthy
Pork medallions (sometimes called noisettes) are small discs of meat cut from the tenderloin or boneless loin. They look fancy on the plate, but they’re easy to prepare.
Dress them up with classic cream-and-mushroom sauce, and you’ll be chef de cuisine.
Best of all, this dish can be prepared about an hour ahead of time, then finished just before you’re ready to serve.
That means stress-free entertaining. Which is the best gift you can give yourself for the holidays, no?
Recipe: Pork Medallions in Cream and Mushroom Sauce
We like to use pork tenderloin in this dish (veal or chicken would work well too; see Notes). You can find whole tenderloins in any supermarket, usually sold in Cryovac bags (you’ll often see two tenderloins packaged together).
You can ask your butcher to cut medallions for you, but it’s easy to cut your own. We prefer thick-cut medallions (about ¾-inch). Because their diameter is small, we serve 3 per person. So for four people, you’ll need about 1½ pounds of tenderloin. You’ll probably end up buying more than you need – but you can freeze the trimmings and use them in soup or stir-fry.
Cream-and-mushroom sauce is a classic French preparation for many sautés of meat (veal in particular; see Notes). Sometimes seafood too. In fact, this recipe follows the same general procedure as our Seared Scallops in Cream Sauce.
The dish is easy to make: Sauté the pork medallions. When they’re done (which takes just minutes), set them aside. Deglaze the pan with some white wine, then add cream and let the sauce thicken a bit. Add sautéed mushrooms to the cream and stir to combine. Then return the pork medallions to the pan, warm them in the sauce, and serve.
Prep time for this recipe is about 15 minutes. Cooking time adds (at most) another 15 minutes.
This recipe serves 4.
- ~1½ pounds pork tenderloin (exact quantity can vary)
- ~1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (for sautéing the pork medallions)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 large shallot
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup white wine (or ½ cup dry vermouth)
- 1 cup heavy cream (or more to taste)
- ½ pound mushrooms (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons butter (for sautéing the mushrooms)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (for sautéing the mushrooms)
- additional salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us)
- additional freshly ground black pepper to taste (about a dozen grinds or so)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cut the pork tenderloin crosswise into medallions about ¾-inch thick (plan on 3 per person; if you have extra meat, you can cut it into additional medallions or reserve it for another purpose). Dry the medallions thoroughly, then salt them to taste.
- Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add as many medallions as will comfortably fit in one layer (don’t crowd the pan). Sauté the first side for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned. Flip the medallions, then cook them until done (an additional 3 to 4 minutes or so; “done” means an internal temperature of 145 degrees F – see Notes). When the medallions are cooked, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. Sauté the remaining medallions in batches if necessary. Season the cooked medallions with black pepper to taste.
- While the medallions are cooking, peel the shallot and mince it finely. When all the medallions have been cooked, drain some of the oil from the frying pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add the chopped shallot and cook it for one minute. Add the lemon juice and white wine. Cook until the mixture is reduced by about half. Add the cream, then cook until the sauce is reduced to your preferred thickness.
- While the wine and cream are reducing, wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut them into halves or quarters. Place a second frying pan on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped mushrooms, then season them with salt, black pepper, and thyme. Cook the mushrooms until they’re browned (about 5 minutes).
- Add the browned mushrooms to the cream sauce, then add the cooked pork medallions to the pan. Spoon some cream sauce over the pork pieces to baste them. (If you wish to cook ahead to this point, see Notes.)
- Once the pork medallions are reheated in the cream/mushroom sauce, you’re ready to serve: Plate the pork pieces and spoon sauce over them. Garnish with chopped parsley, if you wish, and serve.
- If you want to cook this dish ahead of time, prepare it through Step 5. Then cover the frying pan and set it aside for up to one hour (but don’t go longer – the meat will cool down too much and won’t taste as fresh). When ready to serve, warm the sauce and meat, then serve.
- You can also sauté the mushrooms an hour or two ahead of time, then set them aside until you’re ready to add them to the cream sauce (we often do this).
- BTW, don’t overcook the mushrooms – they’ll cook some more in the cream sauce.
- Speaking of overcooking, the USDA says pork is safe to eat if cooked until 145 degrees F, followed by a 3-minute rest before serving. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure you’ve cooked your pork sufficiently. Pork cooked to this temperature may still be a bit pink on the inside.
- We like to use pork tenderloin in this dish, but you could also use pork loin. The loin is basically the eye of pork chops without the bone. It tends to be tougher than tenderloin, particularly when overcooked, so we suggest slicing it no thicker than ½ inch. You might also want to pound it flat so that it will cook more quickly.
- You may often see variations of this dish that use thin veal or chicken cutlets (sometimes called escalopes or scallops) that have been flattened by pounding (so they cook very quickly). In fact, we’d bet there are several restaurants in your town that feature veal scallops in cream and mushroom sauce (escalopes de veau à la crème et aux champignons).
- More down-home restaurants often serve chicken-fried steak with cream sauce. That dish is pretty similar to this one, minus the mushrooms. (And the cream sauce is usually flour-based, not reduced.)
- We think broccoli makes a terrific side dish for cream sauce. Cooked spinach also works well (particularly creamed spinach).
- We often serve pork medallions over mashed potatoes or polenta.
- Clarified butter is ideal for making this dish (use it to replace the oil and/or regular butter). But most of us don’t have it on hand.
- You may prefer to add black pepper at table rather than adding it while cooking.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Cream and mushroom sauce. Yummy!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “You’ve earned your chef’s medallion with this dish.”
“Thanks,” I said. “This recipe is really cream of the crop.”
“I hope these ‘jokes’ of yours aren’t going to mushroom,” said Mrs K R.
They probably will. In fact, I may go hog wild.
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Seared Scallops in Cream Sauce
Turkey (or Chicken) Picatta
Stroganoff-Style Leftover Beef
Deconstruced Fajitas with Grits
Chicken or Turkey Tetrazzini
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