Friday, August 23, 2013

pomegranate pork loin with cabbage

Friday, August 23, 2013

If you have read even a little of my blog, or happen to know me in real life, you probably know that when it comes to extreme weather, I've developed something of a "thin skin" ever since moving to California.  One might think that a native Texan who grew up in what can properly be described as a rugged, mountainous desert (all with no air conditioning, I might add) should be able to handle even the warmest days here with no complaint.  The opposite is true, actually--on those days it is usual to find me prostrate on the couch in front of a fan, wishing for a popsicle and sorely tempted to plunge my face into my son's water table.  All of this behavior on my part is ridiculous, especially considering that a hot day here is easily 10-15 degrees cooler than a mild Texas summer day.  

I bring all of my complaints up because even by California standards, it's been quite a warm summer.  There was one particularly scorching week that even my dad found difficult to bear (he was visiting for A's birthday).  This resulted in LOTS of grilling, because as everyone knows, it feels absolutely criminal to even go near one's stove on a hot day, knowing just how much hotter your house can get.  Days passed in this fashion, and my culinary inspiration trickled down to almost nothing.  I was desperate for an opportunity to turn my oven back on.  

My friends, the time has finally arrived.  In the mornings, I can comfortably wear a sweater.  I have to be careful that little A doesn't get completely soaked when he's playing with his water table (a daily afternoon activity), because the breeze can be nippy.  We have definitely started burrowing under the covers at night.  

For my first cooler weather dish, I settled upon this pork loin from the wonderfully family friendly cookbook, Dinner: A Love Story.  I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be both easy and delicious, and I was right on both counts.  This is not exactly a revelation, because pork (and plenty of other things) predictably falls apart into strands of tastiness when simmered low and slow with plenty of flavorful juices.  That doesn't at all take away from how wonderful this particular combination of wine, broth, and pomegranate juice becomes after seeping into the pork for three hours.  All three of us loved it, and A particularly enjoyed the rich, purpled cabbage, which actually ended up tasting a bit like a mild pickle.  I'm already looking forward to making it again, and as it happens, the conditions are perfectly right.  

Pomegranate Pork Loin with Cabbage, adapted from Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless pork loin (2 1/2-3 pounds), patted dry and salted and peppered
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice (optional: I skipped it myself)
Salt and pepper
Dash or two of soy sauce
About 3 cups any combination of red wine, pomegranate juice, and chicken broth (Jenny recommended a third/a third/a third, which seemed to work out quite well)
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded

1. In a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, add the oil.  Brown the pork loin on all sides so you get a nice golden crust, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate.  Add teh onion, garlic, Chinese Five Spice (if using), and salt and pepper and start cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Return the pork to the pot.  Add the soy sauce and your combination of red wine, pomegranate juice, and broth to allow the liquid to come a third of the way up the loin.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, flipping once halfway through (I set a timer halfway through).  Monitor the liquid level to make sure a third of loin is always submerged-add more juice or wine if not.)  The longer it simmers, the better.
3. About 10 minutes before you serve, add the red cabbage to the pot.  Remove the pork and slice.  Bring the braising liquid to a boil and cook until it has slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes (It won't get syrupy because there is not enough fat in the meat).  Serve the pork with the braising liquid and the cabbage spooned on top.  
Note: I was planning to serve this the next day, so after I sliced the pork, I put it back in the pan with the cabbage.  

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