Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pork Loin Roast with Red Potatoes and Cabbage

The traditional American Sunday dinner usually brings to mind some type of roasted meat that fills the house with a wonderful smell and makes family members stomachs' begin to growl.  While I don't often make a traditional roast on Sunday, this week I decided on a pork loin roast after seeing a nice piece of meat in our butcher's case.  I suggest selecting a smaller pork loin cut, 2-3 pounds, with a good layer of fat on the top.  One of the problems you encounter with this cut of meat is that it can be dry.  While I have several techniques to help with this, nothing is better than ensuring you have a thin layer of fat on one side to help keep the meat from drying out while cooking.

In my mind, cabbage goes oh so well with pork.  The problem is that cooking cabbage usually imparts a strong odor that most people do not find appetizing.  My technique solves that problem by starting off with browning (streaky American) bacon and using the drippings for all of the braising before the roasting begins.  The smell in the house will be tantalizing and the cabbage will have a delicate flavor.

This is a single pot meal that is nice to prepare.  Once you do the prep-work you put it in the oven and go get cleaned up and ready for Sunday dinner, as it will require no attention at all for about an hour.

1/4 pound (about 4 slices) bacon
2 to 3 pound pork loin roast with fat layer on top
1 pound (or as many as you prefer) small red-skinned potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock, or a combination of the two
1 medium head of cabbage, sliced into 1/2 inch thick ribbons (core removed)
2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper

Cut the bacon into small pieces and begin browning in a large Dutch oven over high heat.  While the bacon browns, wash and cut into halves the red skinned potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl in salted water and set aside.    Remove the browned bacon to a bowl.  You should now have bacon fat in the pot. 
Place the pork roast, fat side down first, into the pot and once brown on that side, turn and continue braising the meat on all sides, including the ends.  While the meat is browning, drain and microwave the potatoes on high for 3-4 minutes, until they are just starting to be tender.  Preheat your oven to 375F degrees.

Remove braised pork loin to a dish and add the potatoes to the pot.  Turn potatoes so that the cut sides are down and cook for 3-4 minutes in the drippings until they too are golden brown.  (If your bacon and pork did not render enough fat, add butter and oil to the pot to brown the potatoes. If there is more than 3 tablespoons of fat in the pot, drain the excess.)  Remove the potatoes once browned and sauté the chopped onion in the pot until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the white wine/stock and cook while stirring, until reduced by half. 

Add the sliced cabbage, the browned bacon and the sugar and gently turn to combine ensuring the bacon is well distributed.  Place the braised pork on top of the cabbage mixture and push it down slightly, pouring over any drippings from the plate.  Surround with the braised potatoes.  Cover and place in hot oven for 1 hour.  Remove and test meat temperature.  Two inches in from each end the temperature should read approximately 160F.  Center should be cooler.  Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes; center temperature will continue to rise.  Cover pot of cabbage and potatoes to keep warm.  Slice the meat and serve family style or plated.  If serving prepared plates, place the cabbage in the center of the plate and top with a slice of pork.  Surround with potatoes.  Top with sauce of your choice.

Sauce:  I prefer to serve a nice sauce on top of most roasted meats.  The technique in this recipe does not produce a sauce, so I typically use a sauce I have made previously.  Any good finishing sauce will do and most roasted or pan sautéed meat recipes generate good drippings that can be made into a sauce.  Alternatively you can purchase good quality finishing sauces at Williams-Sonoma.  Their Dijon Mustard or Marsala Wine Finishing Sauces would go well with this dish and can simply be heated and spooned over the meat.

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