When Bord Bia gave me a gorgeous pork loin recently at the Irish Food Bloggers Event, I took one look at the size of it and divided it into two. After all, there are only two and a half meat-eating people at the cottage (that was before we acquired our latest rabbit hunters, a trio of cats who, we hope, will have a longer life span than their five predecessors. But we’re not entirely optimistic).
As we weren’t long back from France and there was a bit of cider around the house, I cut the first piece into thick slices for James Martin‘s Loin of Pork with Caramelised Apples and Cider. This, however, was a not entirely successful experiment. I cooked the dish during our sunshine-everyday early summer and the sauce was just too rich for a warm evening.
The second time round things went much better. I roasted the rest of the pork in one piece, after coating it with a fennel-rosemary paste, kept the idea of the cider and apples and, with rain outside, this was a most suitable meal for lunch on a damp Sunday. The best thing about this dish is that it makes enough for lots of lovely leftovers, which are perfect for Monday dinners. (Meal planning in this house is very simple: roast for Sunday lunch, egg in a cup that night, tarted up leftovers the following evening. The rest of the week is anyone’s guess, depending on what cookbook I tend to be obsessed with at the time!)
The best idea of all arrived a couple of days after we had eaten the last remnants of the pork. This recipe for Cedar Smoked Pork Loin with Pineapple Salsa came via my Clonmel Cousin’s Food Club. The lack of a cedar board was holding me back from trying it out but, aren’t cousins wonderful?, my birthday present from herself and her sister was a whole pack of (wood) smoking fun. Next decent day, barbeque here I come!
Pork Loin with Fennel, Rosemary and Cider
The other Irish food bloggers who were sent pork came up with some fantastic recipes. If you’re looking for any ideas – or just to make your stomach rumble! – there’s a whole round up on FoodFight.ie.
Pork loin – 1 piece, about 1kg
Fennel seeds – 1 teaspoon
Fresh rosemary – 1 tablespoon leaves, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, chopped
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Onions – 2, cut into quarters
Apple – 1, peeled and quartered
Dry cider – 250mls
Chicken stock, vegetable stock or water – 100mls
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Using a mortar and pestle (or a strong bowl and the end of a rolling pin), grind the fennel seeds, fresh rosemary, garlic and olive oil together with a generous pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Rub this rough paste all over the pork, massaging it in well.
Place the onion and apple quarters in a roasting tin, pour in the cider and stock or water, then place the pork on top. Put the tin in the preheated oven, roast for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190°C and cook for another 40 minutes (I allow approximately 25 minutes per 450g) or until the juices run clear.
Remove the pork from the roasting tin and allow to rest, tucked up with tin foil, for 10 minutes. Skim off any obvious fat from the cooking juices in the tin. Mash the onion and apple into the remaining liquid, reducing over a high heat if necessary.
Serve with mashed potatoes and cabbage, which has been shredded and cooked quickly with bacon and juniper berries.
Serves 4, with leftovers.