Monday, 16 May 2011

Crispy Mustard and Herb Pork Fillet

If you want to get greedy people stuck in an eternal discussion with no clear winner (and when I sell it like that, why wouldn't you?), ask them this: Cow or Pig. That is, if you could only eat the meat from ONE of those two animals for the rest of your life, which would you pick? For the purposes of this discussion, quantity is not an issue (so don't think that the cow seems like more bang for your buck because it's bigger), nor is milk. This purely comes down to your greediness preferences - steak and roast beef vs: bacon and sausages.

It's surprisingly tricky. At first, the thought of a good rare steak, or a slow-cooked beef casserole, seems completely unbeatable. Beef wellington! Burgers! I'll say it again, steak! Yum. And you can always make bresaola with beef, can't you? So you could still have some kind of cured charcuterie. And as for chilli con carne, meatballs, ragu etc, I'd say you could use either beef or pork so that doesn't help you make a decision.

But then the greedy person thinks of bacon, and beef seems to go slightly out of focus. I mean, bacon is just such a delicious essential. And it's not just bacon, there are all sorts of cured meats and hams that you'd miss. Sausages too are a huge favourite in this house, not just on their own (or roast in the oven) but in pasta, as sausage rolls, in stuffing - of course, Christmas stuffing! It would be a sad Christmas without that. If you wanted something really rich and greedy, I have two words for you. Pork belly. Yes, you might feel a bit greasy afterwards, but it's worth it.

But other than sausages and cured meats, we don't tend to eat too much pork in this household. This was an experiment with pork fillet and it was really tasty - no, not as delicious as sausages, but a nice way with a plain, lean piece of meat. 

We looked to Waitrose for ideas on how to cook it and this seemed pretty quick and easy - roll it in mustard, then herby breadcrumbs, and just bake until cooked through. I admit that it's not particularly beautiful (would you believe me when I said that these were the most attractive of the photos?) but it was juicy and flavourful.

Beef or pig? I'm still not sure. This was quite yummy, but better than beef fillet? Come on. It's good, but it's not that good.

Crispy Mustard and Herb Pork Fillet
Adapted from

- Pork fillet - enough for 2 (around 400g, a piece about 15cm long)
- 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
- Handful of fresh thyme and parsley, chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- Breadcrumbs (we had home made from a bit of old baguette)

Preheat the oven to 180C, and mix the breadcrumbs, herbs and salt and pepper together on a large plate. Smear the pork fillet all over with wholegrain mustard then roll it in the breadcrumbs mixture until all covered. Transfer to a roasting tin or baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through and not at all pink in the middle. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. 

If you want a little condiment on the side, this is a great opportunity to get out some of that random home-made chutney you were given for Christmas which has mouldered in your cupboard ever since. The breadcrumb topping does keep the meat moist though so you won't really need anything, unless you're a condiment fiend like me.

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