Strawberry Balsamic Pork Loin
Spring? Strawberries. Yes please, give me all you've got! Sorbet, smoothies, jam, syrup, fruit-roll ups, the list could go on and on. But, those are all so...typical. How about strawberry pork?! It may sound strange but it is so, so good.
My Dad would take a pork tenderloin, season it with salt and pepper and throw it in the oven on a stone baking sheet. The last few minutes, he would top it with strawberry jam and drizzle with balsamic reduction...so good, so simple. But also, so much added sugar. I thought it would be fun to try to re-create his dish without all of that excess. As my creative juices started flowing though, I decided to go ahead an create something brand-new, using his strawberry-balsamic-pork combination as my inspiration. And let me tell you, I'm glad I went wild with it! I was told that the fat was "whipped cream fat" it was so good - and I have to say I agree!
I needed a new cut. The tenderloin is beautiful, of course. But maybe too perfect - I wanted something I could respectfully smother with flavor. Boneless pork loin, lean and tender with a nice fat cap; a perfect meat-vessel to host just about any flavor combination one could come up with.
Here's my favorite part - this is an ideal recipe to prepare ahead of time. I'll write here instructions to prep a day in advance, and the link below will take you to the basic recipe.
In advance, allow pork loin to thaw in the refrigerator.
Rinse 1/2 pint of better-than-organic strawberries. Remove stems and ROUGHLY chop. I really appreciate there still being visible hunks of berries when all is said and done.
Cook with balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If you have a top-shelf aged balsamic vinegar, this is the time to use it! Once balsamic starts to take on a pink tinge and thickens slightly, remove from heat, still uncovered.
In a small dish, mix together Dijon, oil, dried thyme, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. I know, it looks like a LOT of pepper and thyme. No need to worry my dear, it'll be delicous!
Place loin fat-side-up on a large sheet of plastic wrap and pat dry with a paper towel. Using a sharp knife, slice the roast length-wise, about 1/4-1/3 of the way through, coming no closer than 1/2" from the edges.
Spread Dijon mixture evenly over the loin, including in the sliced crevice.
Wrap entire loin tightly in plastic wrap. Return to fridge, along with the cooled strawberry-balsamic saucepan.
30 minutes before planning to cook, remove loin from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temp.
Preheat oven to 450-degrees Fahrenheit. Unwrap roast and place on a cooking rack, allowing the sliced crevice to naturally gape open, on top of a baking sheet with low sides. Place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove strawberry-balsamic saucepan from the fridge just before removing loin from the oven. Using a spoon, strain the majority of the balsamic off and spoon most of the strawberries into the crevice.
Return pork loin to the oven, reducing temperature to 325-degrees, for 25-35 minutes longer. When it is done, a thermometer will read between 135-140 degrees, depending on your preference of doneness. Allow to rest, lightly tented with foil. *Keep in mind that the resting period will raise the internal temperature from anywhere between 5-10 degrees. Pork should reach an internal temperature of 145-degrees for safe consumption.
While the pork is resting, depending on the balsamic vinegar used, you may want to reduce it further. If this is the case, simply bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
When cutting, being careful to align the slices will allow the filling to stay intact.
Serve sliced pork loin drizzled with remaining balsamic. Enjoy :)
To read the recipe, click here!