As the seasons have turned from long, warm and summery days to cool, mist-studded, early-sunset evenings our meals at Scrumptious Street have become warmer, spicier and heartier. This is the time of year when Farmer's Markets bring us incredible autumnal goodies, loaded with flavor and depth. I love this time of year and even though Northern California is much milder than what I'm used to, I enjoy the transitions in my cooking too.
This dish is a fantastic Autumn special-occasion entree, or will work well even through the holiday seasons. It is very special, yet so easy to prepare. Here's my recent creation "Spice-Crusted Roasted Pork Loin."
The dish is full of flavor, tender and succulent and has a little bit of spicy-zip and a little bit of gently-sweet fruit. It was a real crowd pleaser both times I made the dish and is absolutely excellent days later using any leftovers for thinly-sliced pork sandwiches. The first time I made this, it marinated about 5 hours in the refrigerator. The second time, 22 hours. The longer, the better. Go for nearly a day and you'll love the way the dish turns out! It's important to have a bulb baster and a proper roasting pan for this recipe, one with a rack on which the meat sits elevated off the floor of the pan. You roast the meat but continually baste it with the sauce that accumulates underneath. This creates a lovely, crispy outer shell on the meat. If it were sitting in the liquid in the bottom of a pan, then it would be braising and steaming, which leads to an entirely different texture. (Still tender, but more stringy.) Think of this being pork's equivalent of a prime rib preparation -- you'll love it!
Here's my recipe
2 T. ground cumin
1 T. ground black pepper
2 T. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 T. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 boneless pork loin or tenderloin, 3-4 lbs.
1 c. freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/2 c. freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 8 oz. tin canned pineapple chunks with juice reserved
1/4 c. pineapple juice
2 shallots, chopped
1 sweet-tangy apple such as Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp, washed, cored and chopped
water, as necessary
1. In a small food processor or mortar and pestle (my tool of choice), grind the cumin, peppercorn, oregano, cayenne, garlic and 1 T. salt into a paste. Remove the pork from its wrapping, leave the string from the butcher intact, and cut a few slits in the pork on each side. Rub the garlic and spice paste all over the pork, pressing some into the slits as well. Set the pork loin into a large ceramic dish or baker with a lid and set aside.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, pineapple juice and 1 tsp. salt. Pour it over the pork in the dish. Cover the dish and refrigerate the pork in the marinade for 18-24 hours, turning occasionally.
3. Remove the pork from the refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to cook, to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Cut the apple and shallots and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan. Add the pineapple chunks and spread evenly amongst the apples and shallots throughout the pan. Clear space in the middle of the pan and set the roasting rack in the pan. Place a meat thermometer in the thickest end of the loin and set the loin on top of the rack and place the pan in the center of your oven.
4. Roast the pork, basting every 30 minutes with the juices in the pan, until the thermometer registers 160˚F. This will likely take about 2 hours or more. If the liquid begins to evaporate, add water to the pan as necessary to keep making basting sauce. I used 1-1 1/2 c. water. When the meat has reached temperature and the outside is a rich, deep brown, remove from the oven and set on a cutting board. Let the pork loin rest 15 minutes.
5. While the pork is resting, place the roasting pan with the fruit and juices on the stove top and turn on low-heat, stirring and evaporating the rest of the liquid until a thick, rich sauce begins to form. Add 2 T. butter to the pan and swirl to melt. Remove the sauce from the heat. Carve the pork loin and serve with the sauce spooned on top.
Your entire house will smell incredible while the pork is roasting and be prepared for neighbors showing up hungry and curious at your door. Try this one out, it's really scrumptious indeed!