For whatever reason, when Taco visited I went pork crazy. In a day and a half span, we ate pork every single meal and in almost every single dish, including panini-style BLTs, cheddar and bacon soup, vegetables sauteed in bacon grease, and the subject of this post, roasted pork loin. To be completely honest, we had a couple of moments of bacon overload. Still, one of my best friends was here in Chicago for a couple of days, a friend who has lived in the likes of Montana, Utah, Alaska, Utah in the present day, and probably Alaska again for the next few years. I guess I’m trying to say is it was really, really good to see my friend whom I don’t get to see enough of these days. We always used to go out and play hard in our hey days together at IU, on road trips, and pretty much anywhere, so it was only natural to go over the top with pork to do it the only way we know how together, big.
This dish was inspired by a maple cajun marinade my mom and I created after perusing recipes for fish marinades. The sweetness of the maple syrup with the savory garlic and onion powder and the heat of the paprika and cayenne pepper is an incredible balance for anything from tilapia to salmon to chicken and pork. I honestly have no idea what the exact measurements, but it’s pretty much just a homemade cajun spice mixture to taste. I prefer my pork to have a little pink in it and even medium if it’s really quality, but cook it to your own preference. Remember to rest your pork and take it out a little sooner than needed as carryover cooking will apply during the resting time. I enjoy the fat on the pork, adds a lot of flavor not only to the pork, but the onions in the pan as well. A good sear on the pork makes a world of difference as carmelized meat always tastes better. Roasted vegetables are always good, add whatever you have on hand and enjoy the roasting goodness with fresh herbs and a touch of some kind of acid at the end to refresh the flavors, lemon juice or vinegar are both great options.
Paprika Pork and Roasted Beets and Brussel Sprouts: 1/2 lb pork per person, mine was about 2.5 lbs
- pork loin, I kept the fat on but you can trim it off if desired, remember, fat is flavor…
- 1/2 tbsp sage, finely minced, plus 5 whole sage leaves
- 2 onions, evenly sliced
- cayenne pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- maple syrup
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven on 375. Make Cajun spice mixture to taste w/maple syrup. Rub maple Cajun spice mixture into pork and let marinate for at least 1 hour. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large saute pan and sear pork on all sides, a couple minutes at least per side, the color is the pork carmelizing and creating tons of flavor. Put onion slices in a roasting dish, mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay pork on onions, fat side up, and push fresh sage leaves into the loin. Roast on 350 until pork reaches an internal temperature of 150-155, turning once halfway through, about 45 minutes, stirring onions several times. Remove pork from oven and loosely lay aluminum foil over to let rest for 12-15 minutes. Pork should be medium well for the right level of doneness and juiciness. Serve w/maple Cajun mixture drizzled lightly over sliced pork.
- brussel sprouts, ends cut off
- beets, peeled and trimmed, cut into small equal size chunks
- red onion, sliced
- fresh sage
- fresh oregano
- garlic cloves, whole
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
Toss all vegetables with fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Roast on 350, tossing every ten minutes, until ends are browned and beets are cooked completely through. Toss with vinegar, season to taste, and serve.