March 6, 2013

The Maine Ingredient: Pork loin two ways, and each touches off flavor bomb

By Anne Mahle

At first glance, coffee and cocoa might not present themselves as a savory combination. Really, we should be seeing some sort of cake recipe here, right?

Nope. Combined with guajillo, fennel, cumin and allspice, this rub becomes deep and richly flavored with smoky, bitter and anise hints. The rub is as simple as it gets, but the flavor is high-class and decadent. Still, this recipe is quick enough for a weeknight dinner or one to save for entertaining on the weekend.

Pairing with a pineapple salsa lightens and brightens the flavors, while the alternative brandy and cream pan sauce continues with those deep, rich flavors. Either is worthy.

The salad also serves to brighten and lighten the meal, and is packed with goodness. It's a nod to the coming spring and the greens we will soon (or are already) be craving.

Happy cooking and eating to you all.

COFFEE, COCOA AND GUAJILLO PEPPER PORK LOIN

Serve with either the brandy cream sauce or the pineapple salsa.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds pork loin with some fat left on

RUB:

1 tablespoon espresso beans

1 whole guajillo pepper, stem and seeds removed and broken into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon demerera or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

BRANDY CREAM SAUCE:

3 tablespoons brandy

1 cup heavy cream

Combine all the spices in a small food processor or spice grinder. Place the pork loin in a small roasting pan and rub all over with the spice mixture. Let rest for one hour (can be prepared a day ahead). Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook the pork loin for 10 minutes, or until the exterior begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 350 and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 145 degrees. Remove from roasting pan and let rest 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, move the roasting pan to the top of the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add the brandy and then the heavy cream, whisking or stirring to get all of the little bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to thicken slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes. When the sauce is done and the pork has rested, slice the pork thinly. Add any juices to the pan sauce, strain and serve with the pork immediately.

Servings: Six to eight

PINEAPPLE AND ORANGE PEPPER SALSA

If you don't have fresh pineapple for this recipe, don't bother with the canned, make another salsa instead. The difference is notable.

2 cups finely diced pineapple

1 cup diced orange pepper, about 1 pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Can be made up to one hour ahead.

Makes: About 3 cups

ORANGE, WALNUT AND PECORINO SALAD WITH WHITE WINE AND HONEY VINAIGRETTE

1 small head radicchio, about 12 ounces, cored and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 3 loosely packed cups)

1 medium head butter lettuce, about 6 ounces, cored and torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 4 loosely packed cups)

(Continued on page 2)

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