Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Attention Deficit Herb Crusted Pork Loin

I hate my job. Have I ever told you that? I'm sure I have, but I'm going to tell you again. I don't like my job. In any way. Most days, I couldn't tell you what I did at work that day, largely because the second I step out of that building, I block it all out. Seriously. I generally feel like a zombie, only half living, because I sacrifice eight precious hours of my day to a job that somehow manges to make me feel overpaid  (in spite of the fact that I just barely make it on my salary) , underwhelmed, apathetic, and generally terrified that it hasn't provided me with a single marketable skill in the 2+ years that I've been here. So to make up for the fact that I have to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed every morning, I cook, I rant, I blog, AND I have increasingly been looking for various opportunities that would enable me to leave the God forsaken place that is my job. As you know, just a few short weeks ago, I was working on applications for a possible future endeavor that would grant my wishes and answer my prayers. One would assume that my strong desire to leave my current situation combined with the competitive nature of an application would be motivation enough to easily complete the required application essays without distraction. But that's where you would be wrong. I'm pretty sure I have a mild case of ADD. If  you saw my process for getting things done, I guarantee you would shake your head (several times) and eventually want to shove an Adderall down my throat. And true to form, while I was staring at my computer screen expecting my essay to type itself brainstorming the outline of one of my essays, I thought it was the perfect time to marinate a pork loin (and buy wine). My brain works in funny ways like that, go figure.

So my original inspiration for this dish came from the lovely and talented Keeley, from My Life on a Plate. I had been holding out on making this recipe for months because I didn't have fennel or sage in my pantry. So when I finally had all the ingredients per Keeley's recipe, I did what I do best, and added more. I added cardamom, and lemon zest to the mix. I actually decided not to use the Herbs de Provence

I love cardamom, it's probably my second favorite spice after black pepper.  I've been obsessed with it since I was introduce to it by Chef Marcus Samuelsson. It has this beautiful flowery aromatic essence that works in everything from savory to sweet, but really shines in meat dishes.


But using this spice is a labor of love, because first you have to crack the seed pods, and then grind the seeds. But now that I have a mortar and pestle, expect to see me use this spice more often. 

I find it curious that I don't like licorice candy , but I love fennel, which has a strong licorice flavor. I decided to toast the fennel seeds for the marinade, to heighten their flavor.

Even though I have a pepper mill (not a very good one though) I decided to grind my pepper corns in the mortar and pestle, to get a really course grain. Believe me, it makes all the difference in the world.

A little lemon zest, just to brighten the flavors..

And last but not least, some chopped garlic. I've finally become a modern woman, and bought pre-chopped garlic. My hands that don't smell like garlic for days and days are forever grateful.

And then I gave that pig the rub down of its' after life.

Then wrapped the pork loin in a freezer bag, and refrigerateed for 24 hours.

Then of course, came home from work the next day, after I submitted my application and hard day's work, and roasted the pork in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. And then forgot to take any pictures of the unsliced finished product because it was a Friday, and I was exhausted, and hungry, and all I want edto do is eat that damn pork loin that I'd been thinking about since the day before, and now that my applications had been submitted, I just want to eat pork and guzzle wine and watch Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes on OWN because all of those things are awesome.

And awesome they were.

Herb Crusted Pork Loin

Pork Loin  about 3lbs (or other boneless cut of pork)
1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 tbsp green cardamom pods
3 tbsp chopped garlic
4 tbsp olive oil (always extra virgin)
2 tbsp dried sage
zest of 1 lemon

In a large skillet, toast the fennel seeds on medium high heat, until they become fragrant. Remove from heat, and ad to herb mixture.

Rinse pork loin with cold water, and pat dry. Combine the herb mixture by hand or in a food processor to form a past. Rub mixture all over meat, and make a few punctures into the with the point of sharp knife and place herb mixture inside punctures. Wrap the meat in freezer bag or plastic wrap, making sure to keep as much air out of wrapping as possible. Refrigerate 12-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F (400 if convection oven). Remove pork from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before roasting. Place in baking dish, if glass, foil is not needed, and place in oven, on middle rack. Roast for 35-50 minutes, depending on the size of the meat. If you have a meat thermometer, anything between 145-160 likely is safe. I like the pork to be pinkish in the center, because it will continue to cook as it cools, and it remains tender during reheating. Let the meat rest for 20 minutes before slicing, or all the juice will run out and your pork will be dry. Slice up and enjoy.

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