Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sage Roasted Pork Loin with Port Sauce

Pork is, as Homer says, "a wonderful, magical animal" that produces many of my favorite things: bacon, sausage, smothered pork chops (coming soon), ham hocks for soup, pulled pork sammies, chile verde, tenderloin glazed with maple syrup, and a thousand other things as well as a beautiful, lean loin for roasting!

I apologize in advance that you've already seen these pictures, but I am attempting to post proper recipes, not just, oh yeah, I cooked that the other day and it rocked, so bear with me.

As Burning Pasta always says, "let's get to it".

You want a threeish pound pork loin roast which will probably be all tied up when you get it. When I say threeish, I mean 2-4. Let it sit out on the counter for an hour so it isn't forty five degrees when you want to put it in the oven and have it start cooking.

First order of business is searing. You want a very high quality heavy skillet. Mine is copper but yours doesn't have to be. Get it hot. And I mean hot. We start with the fat side down. There is no oil in the pan. Use tongs to manage the meat; it's easiest. As soon as the meat lifts right off the surface of the pan without sticking an iota, it's seared. Keep turning it and searing it completely. You are getting all sides of the roast this lovely caramel-y color. (I'm starting to feel like I use the word caramel-y too much and this is one of the thousand reasons why I am not a paid food writer). The searing improves the flavor, gets it cooking and seals in the juices...mmmm...searing.

Anyway, when it is seared on all sides, you can put it in a shallow dish, roasting pan, whatever. Rub it all over generously with a paste you make of olive oil, coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh sage. You can add garlic to this if you like; personally I think it overpowers the sage and I like the cleaner flavor you achieve by leaving it out.

Pop it in a 375 degree oven until it reaches about 155 on the thermometer. You also want it to be sitting in the pan in the oven fat side up.

While the meat is in the oven, take a large handful of dried prunes and quarter them. Soak them in a cup of port.

When the meat is done, remove it from the oven. This is what it looks like when it comes out.

One of the most important things you can do for your meat is to let it rest. Take it out of the pan, put it on the carving board and tent it with foil for fifteen minutes. You can use this time to make the sauce, finish your sides and get the troops to wash their hands.

You should have some goodies in the pan you used in the oven. (It may have been the same pan you used stovetop; that's up to you). Pour them off and save them, you'll need them in about five minutes. Of course on this day, I made my sauce in my crappiest nonstick pan. What was I thinking???

Now, you want about 1/2 cup of thinly sliced shallots. Saute them in a little butter until limp and a little browned. Turn the heat to high and add the port, scraping off anything off the bottom of the pan while it is bubbling up and getting all excited.

When it calms down a little and you can't really smell the alcohol coming off the sauce, add the reserved drippings and prunes. When the sauce is reduced and thickened to a proper consistency, turn the heat to medium low and taste to see if it needs salt and pepper.

Slice and plate your meat and ladle the sauce over it. Heaven. Since I'm still a dork at this blogging thing, of course I did not take a picture of the plated dish. duh.

I served it last time with green beans sauteed in butter then dressed with sliced almonds and a little balsalmic and a scoop of hot, cheesy polenta.

Questions on my esoteric meat cooking instructions?? Fire away.

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