Pork Loin is slow cooked then served with a fresh horseradish cream, butter-sauteed apples and a rich demi-glace sauce in this blog post which takes us from the butchering of the pig to the final dish on a plate.
Did you ever learn something that changed the way you saw the world? It’s that moment when something you knew intellectually becomes something you fully understand and can use. One of those moments came for me last week when I went to a whole hog butchery demonstration at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. (Quick disclaimer: this post relates the life the animal lived to the way the meat we eat is cooked. If you don’t want to know about it, you may want to skip on down to the recipe!).
Intellectually, I knew that the meat we eat is muscle and the marbling which makes it tender comes from fat and connective tissue. Therefore areas which get a lot of work in life have less fat and will need longer cooking times to become tender. Similarly lots of connective tissue appears in areas which join together part of the body (Connective tissue–get it?). This meat will need long slow cooking in order to break down the connective tissue and become tender. I know all this.
But then there is this:
Which becomes this:
and finally this:
And once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. You know where a “Skirt Steak ” comes from, why it’s called that (it skirts the bottom of the rib cage) and why you cook it the way you do. You know it instinctively and the next time you go to a butcher shop and see that sorry piece of long, thin, chewy looking meat you will see a possible meal instead of a big “What the heck do I do with that?”
After the butchery lesson was over we were treated to a dinner using all parts of the hog presented by some of the best chefs of Asheville. There was so much that was delicious but there was one dish that stood out from all the rest: Pork Loin with Horseradish Creme Fraiche, Apples and Demi-Glace Sauce from the Chef at Farm Burger.
Now I have a killer pork loin recipe from Julia Child which I have used for our Christmas Eve Cassoulet for years. Mine is good, but his was better. What took it over the top to delicious was the combination of sauteed apples, horseradish creme fraiche and the intense flavor of the demi-glace sauce.
I thought, “I can do that.”
And now you can too!
Start with a 2-3 pound boneless pork loin. Dry it well and then rub it all over with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground sage (or thyme) allspice and some garlic. Then cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, render the fat from some bacon (and set the bacon aside for a sandwich!) then brown the roast on all sides in the fat. Once this is done, remove the meat and pour off all but a little of the bacon fat. Lower the flame and add the sliced onion, carrot and herbs and let them soften in the fat for about four minutes. Put the meat back in the pan, cover it and heat it on the stove top until you can hear the meat sizzling.
Once the meat has started cooking put the covered casserole in the oven and let it cook for two hours, basting it twice during the process. The vegetables will give up their juices along with the meat and you will use this for your demi-glace sauce.
While the roast is cooking, dice the apples and saute them in some butter until just soft. They should still have a little bite to them.
I used fresh horseradish root for my Creme Fraiche Sauce. You can use horseradish from a jar if you like. If you do it will be stronger so start with a little less and taste it as you go along. You are looking for a rich sauce with just a tang of horseradish flavor in it. Creme Fraiche is a thickened cream with a buttery flavor. If you can’t find it you can use whole milk sour cream as a substitute. And if you are trying to be healthy, you can substitute Greek yogurt. Your sauce will be slightly sour if you do make a substitution. Stir the horseradish into the creme fraiche, add a little lemon juice and you are done!
You can make both the sauce and the apple earlier in the day. Reheat the apples gently if you have stored them in the refrigerator.
Once the meat is cooked, remove it to a cutting board and cover it while you make the demi-glace sauce. Demi-glace is made from a rich stock which has been reduced until it is thick. This can take all day and while it makes a delicious base for gravies and other sauces, there are very good commercial varieties available. You will generally find them at specialty food stores. I get mine at Williams-Sonoma. I used a veal demi-glace but beef will also work.
Pour all the vegetables and juices from the casserole through a sieve into a bowl. Remove the bouquet garni and then press down on the vegetables, until you have forced all the juice out that you can get out. Throw out the vegetables remaining in the sieve and pass the juices through the sieve one more time over a small saucepan. Put the saucepan over gentle heat and stir in one-two tablespoons of demi-glace. Heat it gently, stirring occasionally until the demi-glace is melted into the juices. Taste and add salt if needed.
Slice the pork thinly and top with the horseradish creme fraiche and sauteed apples, surrounded with demi-glace sauce.
PORK LOIN WITH HORSERADISH CRÈME FRAICHE, APPLES AND DEMI-GLACE
For the pork
- 2-3 lb boned loin of pork
Dry Rub (per pound of meat)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp ground sage
- Pinch of allspice
- 1 clove finely minced garlic
To cook the pork
- 4-6 slices of bacon
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 carrot sliced
- Bouquet garni: Parsley fresh thyme, bay leaf
For the apples
- 2 Granny Smith Apples diced
- ¼ cup butter
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
For the Horseradish Crème Fraiche
- ½ cup crème fraiche
- 2-3 tbsp grated horseradish root
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- Strained drippings from the roast
- 1-2 tbsp veal demi-glace
- The day before cooking, mix together the dry rub and use your hands to rub it all over the pork loin. Put the loin in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
To cook the roast,
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
- Render the bacon fat in a Dutch Oven over low heat. You should have about three tablespoons of fat. Remove the bacon.
- Dry the roast well then brown it on all sides in the bacon fat over medium low heat. Remove the roast from the pan and pour out all two tablespoons of fat.
- Make a bouquet garni by tying together a handful of fresh parsley, four to five sprigs of fresh thyme and two bay leaves. Lower the heat, add the vegetables and the bouquet garni, cover and cook over low for five minutes until the vegetables have started to soften. Return the meat to the pan, cover and heat over medium until the meat is sizzling. Place the Dutch Oven in the preheated oven and cook for two hours, basting two or three times with the juices.
- While the meat is cooking make the apples and the horseradish crème fraiche.
- Once the meat is cooked, remove the roast and keep warm while you make the sauce.
For the Apples
- Peel and dice two Granny Smith apples (or other tart cooking apples). Melt ¼ cup butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add the apples to the pan and toss to coat. Sauté over low heat until the apples are soft and cooked through. Finish with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
For the Horseradish Crème Fraiche
- Mix together ½ cup crème fraiche, 2-3 tablespoons grated horseradish (to taste), lemon juice and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
For the Demi-Glace Sauce
- Strain the juices from the Dutch Oven over a bowl, pressing on the vegetables to get out as much of the flavor as possible. Discard the vegetables and re-strain the juices into a small sauce pan. Add one to two tablespoons of demi-glace and heat slowly until the demi-glace has dissolved.
To serve the roast, slice the roast thinly, dab with horseradish sauce, top with apples and demi-glace.