Gird Your Loins

I don’t normally cook pork loin, because it has no fat and is expensive. But I had a hankering recently to make lomo/lonzino, and when I saw a nice one for not too much I bought it.

Sorry, sourced it. I forgot myself there for a minute.

Most of it sat in a cure for a few days, and I’m going to hang it tomorrow. The rest of it became dinner, and I came up with a rather neat way to avoid overcooking a lean cut such as this, which can turn to cardboard misery in a matter of minutes if you’re not careful, wasting all that money you spent.

I rubbed it all over with a coarse paste of garlic, fresh herbs from outside, salt, and pepper and let it sit for a while while I prepped other things. Then I rubbed off the paste and browned the loin all over in some duck fat until it was good and caramelized and there was some serious fond going on in the pan. Then I spatulated the herb paste back on top, put the lid on the pan, and shut off the heat.

That was it; over the next ten or so minutes the meat slowly rose to a perfect pink doneness without going past it at all. Lots of recipes call for browning and then finishing in the oven. Putting a lid on a pan makes it into an oven, saves energy, and is much harder to forget about. Turning the heat off adds another layer of security against ruining your dinner. You can always fire it up again for a minute if it’s too pink. This wasn’t, so I removed it and lit the burner again, deglazing the fond with some blackberry wine and a little whey.

I had used the rest of the whey to slowly braise some fennel and cabbage until it was all tender and luscious. The dark orange tangle is a fennel mostarda I made with mustard oil, maple syrup, clementine juice, and still more of that blackberry wine. It killed with the pork, and picked up the fennel flavor in the cabbage and the fruit in the pan sauce (not to mention the whey in both sauce and cabbage) to tie everything together most handsomely.

Initially, this plate—like the chicken in the previous post—might look more like fall or winter fare, but it wasn’t. First off, no starch, which kept it nimble, and second, the freshness of the herbs and overall clean tone of the combination made it just right for another grayish but not too chilly spring evening. Slices of this pork killed for lunch the next day, and the rest of the leftovers became another dinner which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.

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