From our bedroom window I can hear tractors harvesting grapes in the cool morning air.
It is finally beginning to feel like fall despite the 100-plus temperatures earlier in the week and the fact that my kitchen is still full of plums and tomatoes. I’m ready for for the change of the seasons, to light the first fire in what is now our dining room after moving everything around this summer and to spend more time at the stove than the grill.
While I wait for the cold weather to arrive so I can begin braising and baking, I think I’ll make this simple and uber delicious pasta dish from Tom and Diane’s book, “Not the Same Old Spaghetti Sauce.”
It reminds me of a pasta dish my mother made when I was growing up so it is the best of all autumnish dishes—nostalgic, comforting and tasty.
Fusilli with Pork Tenderloin Medallions
By Diane Darrow and Tom Maresca
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups drained, canned, Italian-style plum tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound imported Italian fusilli
Freshly grated parmigiano
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to fit the pork in a single layer. Brown the pork medallions over moderately high heat, about 1 minute per side. (If necessary, do them in batches.) Transfer the pork to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook 1 minute. Don’t let the garlic brown.
Turn the heat to high, add the wine, stir and scrape up any the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and cook until the wine is reduced to a thick liquid — almost to a syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat back to medium and return the pork medallions to the pan along with any juices that have collected on the plate. Turn the pork medallions once to coat with the liquid.
Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and several grindings of black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover and cook on a simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender. Stir and turn the medallions once or twice during the cooking. Five minutes before ready to serve, stir in the oregano.
Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add the fusilli and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander, transfer to a serving bowl and mix with the pork sauce. (As suggested above, the pork can be presented along with the pasta or separately, as a second course.)
Pass the grated parmigiano at the table.
What to drink: A hearty dish like this wants a hearty wine to stand up to it. Try either a good Pugliese Primitivo or a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A fruity, simple Zinfandel will work well too. Ample acidity and plenty of fruit are the keys to the match.