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How to transform a dull pork loin with simple ingredients

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This is one of those recipes that makes you feel like a bit of a genius, because it’s so easy, requires so little active time, and tastes like you worked your little fingers to the bone.

This is the pleasure of a few ingredients that play interestingly off one another, here providing a balance of sweet (honey), rich (butter), herby (oregano) and spicy (cayenne). Serve this with a salad and rice or another grain or starch of your choice. Other good accompaniments would be roasted tomatoes or peppers, grilled zucchini and onions, or sauteed spinach. Leftovers are very welcome, perfect when thinly sliced in a sandwich or chopped into stir-fried rice.

The sauce is a simple blend of sour cream and harissa with a squeeze of lime juice. Harissa paste is a fragrant, spicy chili paste that’s a widely used ingredient and condiment in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. It varies from place to place but always includes hot chili peppers (usually smoked), garlic, olive oil and spices such as cumin, coriander, caraway and sometimes herbs. It also may contain tomatoes. Look for it in the grocer’s international aisle.

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HONEY-OREGANO PORK LOIN

Start to finish: 1 hour 40 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 10

For the pork:4-pound centre cut pork loin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock

For the sauce:1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons harissa paste

1 teaspoon lime juice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 F. Use paper towels to pat dry the pork loin, then season it generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy, oven-safe skillet over high. Add the oil and as soon as it is hot add the pork and sear on all sides, turning it four times, for about 3 minutes per side, or until the outside is all nicely browned and a bit crusty.

Transfer the pork to a plate, pour off the remaining oil in the pan, then return the pan to medium heat. Add the butter, honey, oregano and cayenne. When the mixture starts to bubble (don’t let the honey burn) return the pork loin to the pan, roll the pork in the butter mixture, using tongs, even dipping the ends into the pan sauce. Place the pork in the middle of the pan and add the chicken broth.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until it reaches a 145 F at the thickest part. Turn the roast after the first 30 minutes of cooking.

While the pork is cooking, in a small bowl mix together the sour cream, harissa, lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the pork from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before thinly slicing. Serve with the sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 450 calories; 260 calories from fat (58 per cent of total calories); 29 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 360 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 39 g protein.

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