Entering Switzerland, Finding Pork Wellington

The art of making friends.

Thank you David and Sukie, for mastering it.
lake neuchatel
And thank you, bird, for cooperating
And no offense, David, but I’m going to take the liberty of assuming that it’s the savvy Sukie who does the majority of picking through the masses—talking (but not just talking—conversing, which is quite a different thing), listening, and weighing options before bringing home the real gems. Martine and Patrice, our hosts in Neuchatel, Switzerland, are such gems. In the early 80s, they happened to be neighbors to David and Sukie in Chicago; handshakes were exchanged, dinners were shared, babies were born, and lifelong friendships were made that ended up awarding John with these Franco-German Godparents.

Maybe it’s that I’ve been living the farm life for the past three months, but when you get through with a grueling day of hot, failure-ridden hitch-hiking and end up in a chic, retro Swiss apartment that quite literally overlooks a clear cerulean lake and the majestic Alps glimmering in the distance, the absurdity of it all just makes you wonder: how the hell did I get here?

Martine is our resident German, but has lived in France 
since the late 80s. Patrice was born and raised 
in France, and you better not forget it. They split 
time now between France and Switzerland.
So thank you for making the friends that would 29 years later bring your undeserving Chowgypsy to the doors of Martine & Patrice.

After a well-needed sleep to shake off the previous day’s washout, I woke up to the soft lapping of Lake Neuchatel and decided that it was a fitting moment to enter Lady-of Leisure mode. I lay there, considering my only two options: returning to sleep or reading my book (currently: The Monkey Wrench Gang). I decided on the latter.

After I was even more fully rested, we broke our fast on the deck, and although bread was indeed one of the options (typical French), granola, yogurt, and fruit were also on the menu! Oh, my heart!

After breakfast, John went for a swim and I reentered the world of my novel, and before I knew it I was smelling something very, very good.

It turns out that Martine, apart from being a successful business woman and mother of two, is an amaaazing cook!
Onlookers anticipate the opening of homemade apple juice, courtesy of Amelie, their youngest daughter who was visiting with her son Achille and husband Adrien
Now, can I just repeat that after working on farms for the past three months I am suddenly a guest in a home on a lake and it's safe to assume that I am going to be eating very, very well? kthanks.

Maybe I was still kind of full from breakfast. Maybe that didn’t matter. Because [not] maybe we were having pork tenderloin in puff pastry for lunch. Not dinner, boys and girls, lunch. I don’t even know when or where Martine threw this together, but it appeared before I even knew what was going on (that’s assuming that I ever knew what was going on).

Pork Wellington (or Pork en Croute)
pork en croute
How 'bout a little cucumber melon salad with that? Cucumber Mellington, perhaps?
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pork tenderloin fillet, about one pound
  • 5 oz (a bit over ¼ pound) thinly-sliced speck (used prosciutto if you can’t find speck, but I highly recommend the speck)
  • Filling
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) sundried tomatoes in olive oil, cut into strips   
  • 1/2 c fresh coarsely chopped parsley, 2 ½ tbsp dried
  • 1/2 c fresh coarsely chopped thyme, 2 tbsp dried
  • 1/2 c fresh rosemary 2 ½ tbsp dried
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh pepper                 
  • Optional: whole grain mustard

  • Directions
    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    Lay out a wax or parchment paper sheet that’s a bit longer and wider than that tenderloin.

    Now lie those slices of speck down on your work surface, overlapping each slice just enough so that it’ll create a good solid bed to roll the tenderloin up into later on (note: make sure the “bed” is as long as the tenderloin). If you really wanna make sure that they stick together, throw a sheet of parchment over the slices and press down. Ain’t nobody getting up after bedtime now.

    Evenly spread the sundried tomatoes over the speck bed, then sprinkle on all the herbs. Don’t be afraid if it looks like a lot of herbage. We’re gonna get through this. Together. (As in, invite me over when you make this).
    pork wellington
    i love you

    OK tenderloin, we made your bed, now sleep in it. Roll that big guy up, using the parchment paper to help you along. It’s like a big raw pork and bacon sushi roll. Set it on the baking pan that you’ll be using.

    Now brush your parchment paper all over with flour and set the puff pastry sheet down. Roll it out a little if it needs it. For you mustard lovers, this is the moment where you’ll spread out a thin layer of grain mustard in a column as wide as the tenderloin about two inches away from one of the edges. Place the wrapped tenderloin atop your mustard column, then roll that baby up in the dough, tucking the ends under to seal. If you’re feeling really excitable, make some decorations on top with any extra dough (but know that afterwards I’ll laugh at you while also thinking you’re cute). Cut a slit or two on top for the steam to vent (we all need to sometimes, don’t we?).

    Line a baking sheet with some sort of baking liner (parchment, foil, butter if you enjoy doing dishes) and brush our sushi wannabe with a little eggwash (1 egg lightly beaten w/ 1 tsbs water) or water, then throw in the oven for about 25-35 minutes or until golden brown on top.

    pork wellington
    so...save me some?
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