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When one thinks of French food, probably things like wine, cheese, croissants, baguettes, fruit tarts, foie gras, French fries, Coq au Vin, or fill in the blank come to mind.  I’m here to tell you that those things are assuredly there and in spades; you’d be right.

But maybe what no one really thinks about is that potatoes are omnipresent on many French menus and in myriad forms-as I told you when we first returned, we simply couldn’t escape the mounds of pommes frites (FRENCH FRIES) in Paris cafes. (It’s somewhat of a northern France thing, evidently.) They’re inexpensive –downright cheap, in fact, in a country having no truck with paying top euro for fine food. That means you must eat some lesser-priced things on other days, non? Mais oui, et voila! The lowly, luscious potato to the rescue!

Potatoes–“spuds” to your dad and mine–come in lots of varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes.  A bistro could have half a dozen different potato dishes on the menu; soup would be one, without a doubt, perhaps with leeks. In fact, I today looked back at one of my favorite French cookbooks, BISTRO COOKING, by Patricia Wells.  Just to check the facts, ma’am.

There are no less than 9 potato gratin dishes and other recipes that use potatoes number at a grand 14. Despite, or perhaps because of its age, this book is still a top-drawer winner as far as French cookbooks for Americans go–I adore it just as a regular-old cookbook, not only as a French cookbook. I think it’s available in French, too, if you’d like to test your language skills. By the way, I’m working on what will soon, I hope, be a page on the blog listing my favorite books, etc.,  about particularly American approaches to French cooking and life. #staytuned

Here’s a gratin dish made by BIA, courtesy BED, BATH, AND BEYOND

 gratin: a baked dish topped with cheese and or bread crumbs 

Potatoes have come to be a nearly nasty, dirty choice in the U.S. as the current diet trend labels them unhealthy and fattening. White food (as in bread, rice, flour…), I’d guess. No such problem in France where folks remain skinny despite the number of potatoes, croissants, and baguettes they eat daily. Who knew? Potatoes are, after all, a vegetable. (And only 100 calories per large serving.)  I’ll admit I love nothing better than a big baked potato with butter and sour cream, doused liberally with salt and pepper, for a side dish. (Alas, no longer in the 100 calorie ballpark.)

To round out a new take on one of my favorite pork preparations, I just must feature here–in one easy pan– both the ubiquitous, enticing French potatoes along with autumn apples and pink, lean pork tenderloin … …  because it’s so very French to do so.

But while you mentally add potatoes to the quintessential French food list, you must also include French mustard, moutarde–which is put on the table with many meals.

 We won’t go into the varieties of mustard –a favorite topic and mentioned in a previous post–made in Burgundy (vineyard/village shot above) where mustard seed grows like weeds.

Famous Bugundian tile roof at the Hospices de Beaune

Suffice it to say I’ll stir in a splash of Calvados (French apple brandy), along with a healthy dab of whole-grain Dijon (I used Maille Old-Style Whole Grain Mustard) and a slick of cream at the end to create a fast dreamy pan sauce that simply makes the meal. Recipe feeds 4 very hungry folks or 6 with regular-sized appetites. It’ll serve two with copious leftovers for sandwiches, re-heats, or even Alyce’s pork pot pie with Parmesan-black pepper biscuits.I made this merry meal in a 5.5 quart deep sauté pan. If you don’t own one, think about it for your very next kitchen purchase. It does just about everything but set the table at my house. Even our grocery store sells an inexpensive model for under $30. I have two–one is non-stick and the other is stainless steel. I cannot cook without them.

5.5 quart non-stick sauté pan (Calphalon version) from Macy’s

Whatever pan you choose, take a little trip to France with me so you can spend more time at the table!  As always, cooking on the blog is just an idea, a  lesson-in-progress, a suggestion. Do this just the way that makes the most sense to YOU!  I rarely do things identically twice in a row. 

Try this:

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ONE-PAN PORK TENDERLOIN WITH POTATOES, ONIONS, APPLES, AND DIJON-CALVADOS SAUCE

Buttered garlic green beans are an excellent side dish.  No large sauté pan? Use a heavy roasting pan that can go from stovetop to oven and back again.

serves 4-6

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more as needed
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 2.5 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2  large springs fresh thyme, divided
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large sweet-tart apple such as Honey-Crisp or Granny Smith, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds–no need to peel
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon Piment D’ Espelette–can sub crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided– more as needed
  • 1/4 cup  Calvados — can sub any brandy, white wine, or more chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Minced fresh parsley

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. Place rack at center.

BROWN THE PORK TENDERLOINS: Place a 12-inch, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and let rest until oil is just nearly smoking. Meanwhile, quickly pat dry the pork with paper towels and sprinkle well on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 sprig thyme to the pan. Brown meat well on both sides; remove to a plate and set aside with the thyme.

BEGIN COOKING THE POTATOES, ONIONS, AND APPLES: Lower heat to medium. Add potatoes and onion to pan in a single layer. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper; add second sprig of thyme. Brown potatoes and turn, drizzling in a bit more oil as needed.  Lay apples on top of the potatoes and onions; sprinkle with dried thyme and Piment d’ Espelette.  Pour in 1/4 cup broth, stir gently, and cover. Cook 10 minutes or more, stirring a time or two, OR until potatoes are about half-way tender.

ROAST IN THE OVEN: Push potatoes, onions, and apples to the sides of the pan and add the browned, reserved pork tenderloins at center, along with another 1/4 cup of broth. Cover and roast in the oven 10 minutes. Remove cover and let cook another 10-15 minutes OR until instant-read thermometer placed in both tenderloins reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit* and both potatoes and apples are tender. (Meat will come up to temp as it rests.)  Remove meat, potatoes, onions, and apples to a large serving platter.  Discard thyme. Turn oven off and place platter in oven, along with serving plates, to rest and warm while you make the sauce.

MAKE SAUCE:  Place sauté pan on burner and heat over medium flame. Add another 1/2 cup broth to pan; bring to boil. Whisk in mustard and Calvados. Let cook, stirring another 4-5 minutes until reduced. Stir in cream; warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

SLICE, PLATE, AND SERVE HOT: Remove platter and plates from the oven.  Slice rosy meat into 1/4- 1/2-inch slices and drizzle meat with half of the sauce, pouring the other half into a small pitcher for serving at the table. Add a few slices of pork to each plate with a large spoonful of the potato mixture. Garnish with parsley. Serve with buttered garlic green beans, if desired.

*Current FDA temperature for pork is 145 with a three minute rest, which will often raise the temperature to 150. I prefer my tenderloin rosy, juicy, and tender, so take it out a bit early.  Read here about why we used to cook pork so very well-done, but don’t have to anymore.

{printable recipe}

WINE:  Riesling from Alsace-Lorraine  (Read up here.)

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…

(above) More Time’s One-Pan Pork Chops with Potatoes, Onions, Squash, and Apples

OR:

(above) More Time’s Sheet Pan Dinner: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin on Cabbage and Vegetables with Caraway

OR, for a fun and interesting group of French recipes for Americans to cook, check out:

Saveur’s 65 French Classic Recipes

Bonne chance, mes amis! Continuez à cuisiner!  (Good luck, my friends; Keep cooking!)

Alyce