This recipe features a spice rub that I’ve been tweaking over the last couple months. It’s a perfect seasoning for pork chops, a pork roast or any part of “The noble, magical animal” that is pig.
I really dig pig! And now it’s more important than ever for all of us to show our favourite four-legged food some love and respect.
The cost of pig parts has increased exponentially since the outbreak of the PED virus in the US (our Southern neighbour is a large-scale supplier of all things porcine) effecting everything from the cost of prosciutto to the dried pig’s ear our dog likes to munch on. It’s tough for restaurants with pork-centric menus and a bit of a crunch on us at home; my wife and I both love our bacon.
So a Sunday pork roast has become a pretty big deal in our house. When a Megalomart or Tannadice Farms offer whole pork loins I usually nab one and portion it into three or four pieces (enough to feed four people each). We’ll feast on one right away and freeze the rest for the coming summer.
Summer… Man, it’s been a spotty couple of weekends this year. One Sunday will be a sunny, t-shirt, beer drinking, BBQ over beachwood kind of scene and the next week I’ll be huddled inside by the stove while a grey monsoon pounds the island. *sigh* Either way, this recipe is equally at home outside or on the stove. I’ve tested it both ways and there’s very little difference in cooking times.
Bringing rhubarb to the party was a no-brainer: I love the combination of fatty and sour, and right now rhubarb is everywhere! The only problem was how to get rhubarb’s gorgeous pink colour to stick around for the final plate. I’ve tried making gravies and chutneys with these fibrous crimson stalks, and though they were delicious, the cooking process always ruined the colour.
Pickling was the answer! I’d pickled onions, apples, fennel and beets and served many of them with various pork dishes, so it wasn’t much of a leap to try it. The method I used was pretty basic, though a bit heavy on the sugar ‘n spices. It turned out perfect; tender, sweet ‘n sour and a vibrant 1980s tube sock pink! Scatter it on the pork, some braised kale, or a spinach salad with a sweet vinaigrette. It’s all good!
Pickled Rhubarb (Makes 1 small Mason jar full)
- 1 – 250ml (that’s about ¼ quart) Wide Mouth Mason Jar
- 1 Dried Bay Leaf
- 1 Tsp. Fennel Seeds
- 3 Whole Cloves
- ½ Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
- 1 ½ Cups (140g) Rhubarb (Sliced on a bias)
- ½ Small Red Onion (38g, sliced)
- ¾ Cup (177ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ Cup (60ml) Water
- ½ Cup (100g) White Sugar
- ½ Tbls (9g) Kosher Salt
- Cleanse and sterilize your Mason Jar and lid in boiling water according to the manufacturer’s directions and set ‘em aside on a clean, dry surface.
- Mix together the dried spices and dump them into the jar then pack the rhubarb and onions into the jar with ‘em.
- Heat the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan until almost boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Add the salt and give it a quick stir; the liquid should be clear. Pour the hot liquid into the jar, filling it to about ½ inch from the rim.
- Expel any air bubbles in the jar by running a couple of clean wooden chopsticks between the vegetables and jar (this also helps to mix all the veg and spices evenly). Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth and slap on the lid. A properly sealed lid is depressed in the center and wont leak if the jar is flipped upside down. Go ahead, try it.
- Leave the jar to sit at room temperature overnight before transferring it to the refrigerator. The rhubarb is ready to eat after sitting overnight, but actually get better after a week or two. Left in a cellar it should keep for a couple months, in the fridge it’ll last a couple more.
Spice-Rubbed Pork Roast (Serves 4)
- ½ Tbls. Fennel Seed
- ½ Tbls. Cumin Seed
- ½ Tbls. Whole Black Peppercorns
- 8 Whole Cloves
- 2 Large Garlic Cloves
- 1 Tbls. Salt
- 2 Tbls. (30ml) Olive Oil
- 2 ¾ lb. (1.25kg) Chunk ‘o Pork Loin (Bone-out, fat left on)
BBQ Method (You’ll want to pre-heat your oven for 350˚F aka 175˚C)
- Using a mortar and pestle, or electric grinder smash up the fennel, cumin, peppercorns and cloves into a semi-fine powder (a couple little chunks are okay). Bash up the garlic cloves with the salt and mix in the spice powder. Drizzle olive oil into the mix while slowly whisking to create a paste.
- Grab a sharp knife and score the layer of fat on top of the pork loin in a grid pattern. Don’t cut too deep! Just go deep enough for the spices to get at the flesh underneath. Rub the spice paste all over the pork, making sure to massage some into all the little cuts you made in the fat. Let the pork sit there, covered in spice at room temperature for half an hour before cooking.
- Heat up the coals in your BBQ to ‘screamin hot and lay them in a single layer for medium, even cooking. Sear the pork, fat side down over the coals for four minutes, or until the surface of the fat is golden brown. Turn it over and repeat the process (4 minutes each) for each side of the loin.
- Fire that crispy piece of pork into the oven and roast it for 30 minutes. If you have a broiler-heavy oven and it looks like your pork is getting a bit too dark on top, throw a foil hat on it. Let the pork sit at room temperature, with it’s foil hat on, for 20 minutes before serving with some braised kale and pickled rhubarb.
Sear the pork loin (4 minutes per side) in a large, shallow frying pan with 2 Tbls. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Everything else is exactly the same as the BBQ method.
Music To Cook This To:
Tom Waits – Mule Variations