Once upon a time, my brain rewired itself overnight to make me want to learn how to cook, and cook well. One of the first dishes I made after that epiphany was a braised short rib dish – this one, in fact – and to this day, despite the mistakes I made while cooking it, it remains possibly the most delicious meal to grace my kitchen. So when I was scouting cookbooks at a local library branch last week, imagine my excitement to see the very book that recipe was culled from on the shelf: Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
The photographs are beautiful, far outclassing anything I’ve accomplished to date.The variety is impressive and it’s categorized by season, so you know if you’ll be able to find the produce the recipe will call for. That said, there are a number of ingredients used that, if not difficult to locate, are expensive to purchase – saffron and fleur de sel, as an example – that can be intimidating. For someone like me who is not much of a seafood eater, it seems to be a heavyweight item on the menus, but it all sounds so good that frankly I’m reconsidering my stance.
This particular recipe appealed on several levels – first, it contains pig and I am very, very fond of cooked pig. Second, it sounded relatively easy and had a new vegetable (that I was ultimately too cheap to purchase) to try as a side dish. Finally, the use of fresh herbs appealed to me. The end result did not disappoint and will, in fact, be made again soon.
Herb-roasted Pork Loin
adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" by Suzanne Goin
You will need:
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 lbs. center-cut pork loin*
3 sprigs rosemary, broken into 3" pieces
3 sprigs sage
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a shallow baking dish, whisk together the mustard, thyme leaves (not the sprigs!), parsley and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Stir in the garlic and cover the pork loin with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Take the pork out 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season generously with salt and pepper. Keep the marinade nearby as you’ll be using it again.
Preheat the oven to 325F. While the oven heats, chuck a large saute pan over high heat for 3 minutes. Add in the remaining 2 Tbps. olive oil and give it a couple of minutes to heat. You want it almost to the smoking point. Place the pork loin in the pan and sear on all sides until it’s well browned and has that lovely caramelization going for it. Be patient with it, if you turn the pork too quickly you’ll leave the marinade in the pan and not on the pork. You can expect to give it somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes per side.
Transfer the loin to a roasting rack and cover in the reserved marinade. Take the saute pan off the heat but don’t clean it – we’ll be using those crusty brown bits later. Arrange the rosemary, sage and thyme sprigs on the roast and top with 3 Tbsp. butter.
Into the oven it goes until it reaches about 120F on a thermometer, roughly an hour. Let the pork rest 10 minutes before slicing it.
When the pork is nearly out of the oven, return the searing pan to medium-high heat. Allow it a few minutes to get hot then deglaze with chicken stock, water or white wine, or any combination of the three. Bring it to a boil, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Swirl in 3 Tbsp. butter and set aside.
Green Beans & Spring Onions
You will need:
1 1/2 lbs young, thin green beans, stems removed but the tails left on
3 bunches spring onions**
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 small sage leaves***
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add the green beans to a pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes, or until tender – crisp, but tender. (if you ever wondered what blanching was, you just did it)
Cut the spring onions 1 inch above the bulb, leaving some green still attached. Trim the roots up as high as you can, but leave them attached, otherwise the onion will seperate and that is a do not want in this scenario. Slice them lengthwise into 1/4" thick wedges. (Mine were on the thin side, so 1/4" was just cut in half.)
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil into the pan and gently place onions in, cut side down. (for what it’s worth, I just put them in, I’m not willing to be that precise) Season with salt, pepper and thyme, and cook 2 to 3 minutes until they start to brown up a little. Turn them (stir, in my case. again with the precision) using tongs and add in the green beans. Season with salt and pepper again and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring to combine. Add the butter and sage leaves and cook a few more minutes, tossing to glaze the veggies in the butter and let them get their sage on.
- While I see no reason why you couldn’t use dried herbs here, I didn’t include the measurements for them because a) I’d have to look them up and b) such a large portion of the flavor comes from the fresh herbs that it is worthwhile to go to the trouble/expense to have them.
* – Pork loin and pork tenderloin are not the same thing. If you knew this, good on you. If you didn’t, don’t worry, neither did I. Learn something new all the time!
** – Spring onions are also known as green onions or scallions. Why one thing needs three names, I’ll never know, but there you go. I googled so you don’t have to.
*** – My sage leaves were huge, so I sliced up 4 of them into 3 pieces each and called it close enough.