Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five Spice Pork Loin With Oranges and Prunes

Friends, I am entering new territory here.  I don't think I've ever done this before, but there's a first time for everything, right?  I am going to blog about something that I didn't make.  It was made for me, but it was just so delicious that I cannot keep it to myself.   

On Tuesday night Jordan made me this simple but absolutely scrumptious pork loin, that combines several of my favorite flavors.  First, 5 spice powder is one of those ingredients that I often forget about, which is sad, because it lends a wonderful slightly exotic but not overpowering flavor that I adore.  You can never go wrong with onions, which also bulk up the sauce, and orange juice and prunes lend a sweet fruitiness that I absolutely cannot resist.  (Prune skeptics, just stop.  Prunes aren't just for old people anymore.  Have you not seen Sunsweet's aggressive marketing campaign?  They're delicious, and that's all there is to it,)

Combine spices, rub meat, brown, add liquid, cover, braise.  So easy.  The result is deliciously tender pork, and a sauce that becomes rich and thick with caramelized onions, sweet, sticky prunes and zesty orange flavor.  I couldn't get enough of it.  (I was eating it out of the pan by the end!)   We tweaked this recipe a little, upping each of the sauce ingredients, because in this case, more is more (delicious sauce).  

It's no glamour shot, but check out that sauce!  God, it was good.

We ate this alongside a simple salad, but I think that some crisp-tender sauteed green veggies, like bok choy, broccoli, or green beans, would make fantastic side dishes. 

Five Spice Pork Loin with Oranges and Dried Plums (Adapted from Tasting Table Test Kitchen)
Makes 4 servings

Note: 5 spice powder used to be hard to find (I trekked to Chinatown to get mine a couple years back), but now McCormick (which is found in most grocery stores) and Frontier Natural (often at Whole Foods or in the "Natural" foods section of many grocery stores) make their own versions.  The specific spices in the blend aren't standardized, but it's always delicious.

Also, please note that pork loin and pork tenderloin are NOT the same thing!  The loin is a much thicker cut of meat, (5 to 6 inches in diameter) that will most likely come with some fat on the outside.  The tenderloin is a long, thin (about 3 inches in diameter at one end, and tapering down to next to nothing at the other end), with virtually no fat, but occasionally a thin silver membrane on part of it.  Loin is much tastier, in my opinion, although tenderloin is healthy, lean alternative.  IF you do try substituting tenderloin, you'll need to reduce cooking time substantially.  I'm not sure how long it will take, so pay attention to internal temperature.  You're on your own here!

* One 1¼-pound center-cut pork loin, excess fat removed
* 1 Tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 Tablespoon olive oil (canola oil is fine, too)
* 1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
* 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, divided
* 1 cup orange juice (about 3 juicy oranges, if you're squeezing fresh)
* prunes (dried plums), thinly slice

1. In a small bowl, mix together the five-spice powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Place your pork loin on a plate or cutting board, then rub the spice mixture all over the pork.

2. Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, (1½ to 2 minutes), add the pork loin and cook until its bottom is browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Use tongs to turn the pork loin over, and add the onions, scattering them around the pork loin.  Turn the pork twice more, so that all sides brown and the onions become golden, 6 to 8 minutes longer.

A (slightly blurry) view after adding the orange juice, just before the cover goes on
3. Add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the orange juice and prunes, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, turning the pork over midway through cooking, until the pork loin is cooked through and reads 145° on an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Use tongs to transfer the pork loin to a cutting board and set aside. Continue to simmer the sauce until the bubbles are thick and the sauce is reduced, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar. Taste and season with more salt or pepper if you like. Carve the pork crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Divide the pork between 4 plates and serve with sauce. 


1 comment:

  1. You can also mix and match your own spices as the rub, and go with lighter amounts of sauce (which I did the first time because I don't read instructions very well).