Hello! Happy New Year!
For my first 2014 post, I bring you: pork. And cherries and pistachios.
But mostly pork.
I’ve already posted my Christmas dessert, and here’s my Christmas main: roast pork loin with a cherry and pistachio stuffing. We had a very small gathering this Christmas: there was only five of us.
I’ve gotten much, much better with not over catering or going crazy with the cooking, so for our Christmas lunch we just had this pork and a few sides. And it was great! I didn’t have a mountain of leftovers, nor did I stress out the day before. Easiest Christmas ever.
A couple of things about the recipe:
It needs to be started the day before, because the pork loin is brined overnight. Which, if you remember from Brining 101, makes meat more tender and helps to retain moisture. You caaaan skip this if you want, but go to the effort if you have the time.
The morning of roasting, the loin is taken out of the brine, rinsed, patted very very dry, and the skin is then rubbed with a mixture of salt and baking soda. It seems like a lot of salt, but it gets brushed off before cooking so you’re not eating all of it. The loin then goes back into the fridge for a couple of hours at least (as long as possible really). The salt and baking powder helps to draw out moisture from the skin which will help create the crackling. Again, you can skip this if you want… but I recommend it. Just look at that crackling. You want that.
If you don’t have cherries, the stuffing can be made without them. I made a cherry-less version of this for a belated Christmas with the SFBS gang and it was still good.
And the last thing is about timing – the loin is slow roasted, and takes about 3 hours to fully cook and rest. So prepare accordingly.
I served the pork loin with balsamic cherries, which everyone found a bit too sharp. But if you’re interested, try this:
Finely chop 2 shallots and fry in a tablespoon of melted butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add 200g cherries that have been washed, halved and pitted, and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Bring it to the boil then lower to simmer and cook for another 5 minutes, or until syrupy. Add a bit of brown sugar if it’s too sharp.
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 litres of water
- 1.5 kg rolled boneless pork loin, skin on
- 1 tablespoon cooking salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
- 1/2 cup unshelled roasted pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
- Make the brine by dissolving the salt in the water. Add the pork loin to the mixture and leave in the fridge overnight. Try to not submerge the skin.
- In the morning, rinse the pork loin under tap to remove any excess salt and pat dry with paper towels.
- Score the skin of your pork - cutting in the direction that you'll be slicing the meat in.
- Mix together the cooking salt and baking soda and rub all over the dry skin.
- Leave in the fridge - uncovered - for several hours (as long as you can).
- Remove from the fridge an hour before you're ready to cook to let the meat come up to room temperature. Brush all the salt and baking soda off the skin and pat dry again with a paper towel.
- Preheat your oven to 150°C.
- Unroll the pork loin and slice crossways through the thickest part of the meat without cutting through to the skin. Open out the pork to form 1 large piece and press stuffing on to the cut side of the loin. (Instructions for the stuffing are below).
- Roll the loin back up and tie it tightly.
- Roast at 150°C until the internal temperature reaches 70°C when measured with a meat thermometer. It should take about 2 hours.
- Increase the heat on your oven up to the maximum (about 220°C?) and continue to roast until the skin is crisp and blistered - it should take another 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Slice with a serrated knife into thick slices and serve.
- Put a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, heat over medium heat, and cook the onions and garlic and sage and salt until soft.
- Add the breadcrumbs, fry for a few minutes. If it seems too dry, add a splash of water.
- Stir through the fresh cherries and chopped pistachio kernels.