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Crispy Pork Fondue Sandwich with Salsa Verde

One of the perks of this gig is that I often get the opportunity to try out all kind of products and  I make it a point to only accept things I already like or am already interested in trying. When I was asked to do something with some Tre Stelle cheese I wasn't about to turn that down, especially with a brand like Tre Stelle, that is a Canadian staple and a product line I already use all the time. Their extra smooth ricotta is almost always in my fridge. I guess I could just eat some and tell you what I think about it but that's not really how I roll, is it?

Ever since enjoying my annual bowl of French Onion Soup from La Papillion after their Souper Bowl fundraiser, I have been craving more ooey, gooey Swiss cheese. As always, there are constantly disjointed ideas festering around in my brain that don't always make sense for ages until that magic moment where it all comes together, usually at the most inconvenient times. This time, I was lying in bed, just about to fall asleep when it hit me:

"I love that fondue sauce on the beef patty at Patois. I wonder how he makes that? You know, a cheese sauce that tastes like a Swiss fondue would also be great on a porchetta sandwich. That would be awesome, I'll just ...zzzzzzz"

And so it starts. Although I make a tasty porchetta sandwich didn't really want to deal with making porchetta - ain't nobody got time for that - but some nice, crispy medallions of pork would do nicely. Okay, pork is figured out. Now, how am I going to tackle the fondue sauce part? It can't be too runny or it will be a hot mess to eat, so just making actual fondue isn't going to work but I really want to taste the nip and tang of the mixture of Gruyere and Emmental and the nice acidic hit of white wine. What to do?

I picked up a bunch of Tre Stelle Gruyere and Emmental and got to work, tried a few different things and this is what I ended up with. Instead of heavy cream, I used evaporated milk which is always my secret weapon when I want thick, creaminess without all the fat. It has just enough white wine in it to give it more fondue like flavour and it's just thick enough that it works as a sauce (it would be fabulous on a burger too. You're welcome.)  The fondue can be held in the fridge and then reheated slowly over a double boiler if you make it ahead of time or want to use up the leftovers for something else.  It does get a tiny bit grainy as it cools but that is actually kind of works for this sandwich, as weird as that sounds. Because the sauce is so rich, I felt like the sandwich needed something bright and acidic with a bit of heat as a counterbalance so I made my usual salsa verde but upped the vinegar and added some jalapeno.

Both cheeses had great, both had good, nutty flavour, they melted beautifully and made for a nice, smooth sauce and the price is right. Tre Stelle has been around for longer than most of us have been alive so there is always a comfort in that kind of brand recognition and I think most of us reach for it without even thinking about it.

Obviously, I received vouchers for my cheese but, as always, I cannot be bought and my opinions are my own. 

Crispy Pork Fondue Sandwich with Salsa Verde

makes 8 sandwiches

2 large pork tenderloins
1/3 cup AP flour
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh black pepper
a glug of olive oil

Fondue Sauce:
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup white wine (I like a pinot grigio)
150g Tre Stelle Gruyere
150g  Tre Stelle Emmental
1 tbls cornstarch
2 tsp grainy mustard (or dijon if you don't want the little seeds)

Salsa Verde:
1/2 cup rough chop italian parsley
1 tbls minced red onion or shallot
1/2 seeded, finely chopped jalapeno pepper (or to taste)
2 tbls white balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
100 ml extra virgin olive oil

For sandwich:
crusty buns, arugula

First make the salsa verde by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until you have a nice emulsion and set aside.

Next, slice the tenderloin into about 1/2" slices.
Put a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board and, one by one, flatten each slice of pork. Place a medallion of pork on 1/3 of the plastic wrap, fold the other side over and bash it until it's quite thin. You can use rolling pin or even a heavy skillet if you don't have a meat pounder. When all of the medallions are pounded out and mounded up on a plate, salt and pepper them and set aside.

Next make the fondue sauce by putting the evaporated milk and the wine in a saucepan over medium heat and start heating it up. Put the shredded cheese in a bowl, sprinkle in the cornstarch and toss until the cheese is evenly coated (i put a lid on my bowl and give it a good shake). Now, add the rest of the fondue ingredients, along with the cheese, and melt, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth cheese sauce.
Turn the heat to very low and cover.

To cook the pork, heat a frying pan over med high and heat up the olive oil. Put the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl and start dredging the pork on one side only. Fry the pork, flour side down, until there is only a tiny bit of pink showing on the top and then flip it for a few seconds and remove to a plate.

Okay, time to make the sandwiches.

Heat up a grill pan, cut the buns in half and start toasting them, cut side down. If you don't have a grill pan, just toast them under the broiler, cut side up, until nicely browned.

Turn the heat up to med low under the fondue sauce and reheat it, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Put the bottom of a bun down on a plate, pile a few slices of pork on top, cover that with some fondue sauce, add a handful of arugula and finish by drizzling the salsa verde all over the whole thing, add the top of the bun and grab some napkins because this one is messy. If you want GET CRAZY PANTS serve each sandwich with a little bowl of extra, hot fondue sauce to dip it in to.

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