I do most of the cooking at home, so I try to challenge myself when my fiancé and I are having a date night in. Ever since I started experimenting with “copy cat” recipes from some of the restaurants that I couldn’t afford back in college, I figured out that I could live with eating out less often as long as my food looked, and tasted good enough. With lots of trial and error, I started to come up with a few dishes I could whip up when I wanted to make a big impression.
Pork loins seem large, and intimidating, but they are actually relatively easy to work if you clean them properly. They usually come pretty lean, but I usually trim off any excess, dangling fat, and make sure that the silver skin (a shiny membrane on the outside of the pork loin) has been fully removed. Once you find the membrane, stick the point of a sharp knife just underneath, and slice down the length until you are able to pull it all off. It might take you an extra few minutes, but if you don’t remove it, the membrane will get tougher with cooking, and make it hard to enjoy your dinner–plus, you get to show off your knife skills while you are prepping your ingredients.
Coriander powder may be unfamiliar to many people in the US, but it is used extensively in dishes from the Middle East, and Southern Asia. Coriander (aka cilantro) is everywhere, but most people are only used to eating the green plant. Coriander powder is golden, and is made from the seeds that spout into cilantro. It has a very distinct smell and flavor that reminds me a little of anise. I chose to pair it with a semi-tart balsamic reduction to balance the flavor without masking it completely. The spinach, and mushrooms round off the steakhouse feel, and provide a hearty, but neutral accompaniment for your pork loin.
If you don’t eat pork, this preparation could also work well with chicken breast–but of course you’d need to adjust the cooking times.
Hungry yet? Let’s cook.
1 Pork Loin Roast
2 Cups Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
4 Cups Spinach
1 Onion, Sliced Thinly
3 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
2 Cups Balsamic Vinegar
3 Sprigs of Thyme
1/4 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cup of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Coriander Powder
Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder to Taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Trim the excess fat, and silver skin from your pork loin, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Coat the entire pork loin with coriander powder, and allow it to rest in the fridge (covered) for at least 20 minutes. Remove, and let stand on the counter while you prep your other ingredients.
- Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, then slice thinly. Peel, and slice the onions garlic. Sautée the onions in a pan on medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. When the onions become translucent, stir garlic, and mushrooms, and continue to stir until the mushrooms begin to release water, and caramelize. Stir in spinach, and cook until it begins to wilt, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a separate sautée pan on med-high heat until you start to see “streaks” in the oil, then sear your meat on all sides. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, and place in the oven to finish cooking.
- Lower the heat on your stove to medium, and deglaze the pan you used to sear the meat with balsamic vinegar. When it begins to boil, stir in cold butter until it melts, then stir in flour until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in thyme, taste the sauce for seasoning, and adjust to your liking. Lower the heat to the lowest setting keep the sauce warm until ready to serve.
- Remove your pork loin from the oven, and let it rest on a clean cutting board on the counter for at least ten minutes before carving.
- Plate and serve.