Stuff My Kid Eats: Pork Medallions with Chickpeas and Cabbage

Warning: Vegetarians turn back now; this post is about pigs. Lots and lots of delicious pigs! 

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{ My toddler at the Pork & Pickle }

My toddler loves pigs. Absolutely loves them! I’m not talking about the cute, little pink guys that appear in most of her story books (although she loves those, too), I’m talking about the kind you eat. Bacon, ham, pork, you name it, the child will gobble it up, no questions asked. During our most recent travels, we ended up with a couple hours to kill in the Kansas City International Airport, and found a real gem of an eatery, Pork & Pickle, which serves, you guessed it…pork and pickles (among other things). It’s located on the second floor of the Southwest terminal, and once you emerge from the wood paneled elevator, you almost forget that you’re eating in an airport. Almost. The menu had a nice variety of pork that spanned from BBQ to brats…and it got me thinking: I need to cook more pork! It’s a healthy alternative to red meat, it’s more fun than chicken, and it gets my toddler to come to the dinner table without complaint. And then, almost as if it were meant to be, the Fine Cooking magazine I brought with me to read on the plane had a great looking pork recipe. I love it when things work out like that, don’t you? Anyway, I tried it out as soon as we got home, and it turned out to be one of the best pork dishes I’ve had in a long time. And my toddler loved it, which makes it a win-win for me!

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Pork & Pickle in the Kansas City International Airport }

Pork Medallions with Chickpeas and Cabbage

Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) can be a bit bland on their own, but when baked under tenderloins of sizzling, salty pork, they just explode with flavor. This dish is not only delicious and easy to make, but it’s elegant looking as well, which means you can prepare it for your family one night after work, or save it for the next time you have company. Either way, you’ll look like a rockstar in the kitchen! The original recipe called for using dry chickpeas, soaking them overnight, then cooking them on the stovetop for an hour prior to making the rest of the meal. That method sounded delicious, but, really?! It’s more time than I want to spend on a weeknight dinner (also, my local grocery store doesn’t carry dry chickpeas), so I altered the recipe to use canned chickpeas instead. With that being said, anyone who would like to try the long version gets extra credit – and you can find the recipe here. (Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking.)

Pork Medallions with Chickpeas and Cabbage

Serves 6

  • 2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, with canning liquid
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 1-lb. pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • ½ small head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (6 to 7 cups)
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto di Parma (3½ oz.)
  • 6 oz. coarsely grated Italian fontina cheese (about 2 cups)

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add chicpeas (with canning liquid) along with the bay leaves, thyme, and garlic. Heat until just starting to bubble, then reduce temperature to low and simmer for 20-40 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare the rest of the dish. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid and garlic, discard herbs. Smash the garlic (it should be very soft, almost paste-like when smashed), chop, and set aside.

Meanwhile, trim and slice each tenderloin on the diagonal into 3 thick medallions (for a total of 6 medallions). Place each medallion on a cut side, and using your hands, gently press on each to flatten slightly. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and oil in a 12-inch oven proof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in two batches, cook the pork, flipping once, until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and ¼ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cabbage, ¼ tsp. salt, and ½ cup water. Stir, cover, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, reserved cooking liquid, and garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the pork (and any cooking juices that have accumulated on the plate) over the cabbage and chickpeas and top with each piece with a slice of prosciutto and a mound of grated fontina. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the pork reaches 145°F on an instant-read meat thermometer, about 15-17 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon chickpeas onto plate, then top with pork tenderloin.

Sidekick: Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir, Barolo, Syrah, or Chardonnay.

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