Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pork loin with red cabbage

These days when it comes to cooking pork, I automatically lean towards a brine. I know I’m a little slow to jump on the brining bandwagon, but I can’t believe what a difference it makes.

I adapted this recipe for brined pork loin with red cabbage from the Campanile cookbook. The pork is brined in a solution of water, kosher salt, sugar, thyme, peppercorns, cloves and allspice. The pork needs to sit in the brine for about 2 days, so plan ahead.

When I initially read through the recipe, I wasn’t sure about the cabbage part. The ingredients start off fine with cabbage, garlic, balsamic vinegar, caramelized onions. Then comes capers and sage. Capers, sage and red cabbage? That’s a combination that didn’t sound quite right to me. I decided to trust the recipe and go for it, and in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the result.

A word about capers: do you buy brined or salt packed capers? I started buying salt packed capers after reading about them, and they're definitely superior to the brined version. They're slightly more expensive, but have a much better flavor and texture. The only catch is that they need to be rinsed before use.

As expected, the brining process made the pork very flavorful, and the cabbage was a great complement.

Roasted loin of pork with red cabbage
Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from the Campanile cookbook

For the pork:
1/3 cup kosher salt
3 T granulated sugar
2 T black peppercorns, cracked
1 T dried thyme
4 cloves
6 allspice berries, cracked
2 bay leaves
1 boneless pork loin, about 2 1/2 pounds
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices
1 T canola oil

For the cabbage:
1 medium head red cabbage, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
salt and pepper

Combine two quarts of water with the salt, sugar, peppercorns, thyme, cloves, allspice and bay leaves in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the stockpot from the heat and transfer the brine to a bowl that's large enough to hold the pork. Cool the brine to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Add the pork to the brine, making sure that it's completely immersed. Refrigerate for 2 days. When ready to roast, remove the meat from the brine and dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat heat the oil, then brown the pork on all sides. Place the onion slices on the bottom of the skillet and put the browned pork loin on top. Transfer to the oven and roast until a meat thermometer reads 138 degrees in the thickest part of the pork loin, about 25 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and place on a plate; wrap with foil. Let the pork rest while you prepare the cabbage.

Remove the onions from the skillet and coarsely chop. Heat up the olive oil in a large saute pan on high heat. Add the garlic, cook for one minute and turn heat down to medium. Add the cabbage and saute until the cabbage is wilted, about 6-8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, chopped onions, capers and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, cut the pork loin into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the cabbage on a large platter, arrange the pork on top of the cabbage.


64 comments:

Priscilla said...

Man, this looks so yummy. How i'd love some!

Lo said...

Ooh, Sarah - I'm glad you stopped by over at Burp! It reminded me to hop over here and check out what you've got cooking. I love red cabbage, and this looks positively fantastic. Great use for winter veg!!

Tracey said...

Don't feel too bad. I've still not tried brining anything! I do have a couple of pork loins in my freezer and this looks like a great recipe to try!

redheadedjournal said...

love the color of the cabbage!

5 Star Foodie said...

Wow, fantastic pork and cabbage! Such unique flavor combinations - it sounds super delicious!

biz319 said...

LOVE brining, but found out the hard way that there is such a thing as TOO MUCH brining. I had brined 4 pork chops (thick) but decided to only cook 2. Left the other ones in there and decided to cook them two days later. Um, not so good! So salty!!

thanks for sharing your recipe!

teresa said...

Look delicious! I've never even tried brining, so that is definitely something I'm going to try soon!

Reeni♥ said...

What a gorgeous dish! I hear so much about brining, I have yet to try it, but it's definitely on my list. Thanks for the caper tip.

Lori said...

Pretty picture with the red cabbage and pork. Very clean looking. I love this combo! A classic.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Sara, I started brining my Thanksgiving turkey about 3 years ago ( for 48 hours) and trust me, it's the way to go. The turkey meat was so very moist and lasted much longer before I started having to make turkey salad, or turkey burritos, or turkey a la king, although those last three were delicious too.

Precious Pea said...

Hi Sara. Just dropping by to say hello. Nice yummy blog you have...slurps!

Pearl said...

wow! i like the presentation a lot :D

thecleanveggie said...

sounds good - i have never had red cabbage before though.

The Blonde Duck said...

That cabbage looks so pretty with the pork on it!

Elra said...

Sara dear, I am loving that red cabbage. I normally like to add lots of apples.You serve your with pork, I serve mine with duck. Delicious.
Cheers,
Elra

Selba said...

Delicious!

My mom usually will add small cubes of granny smith apples into the red cabbage to add the sweet and sour taste :)

Jan said...

I've never tried brining, but this sounds fab, as does the red cabbage.

BTW, I have an award for you, stop by and collect it sometime.

Pam said...

My husband loves red cabbage - I really need to make this for him.

noble pig said...

I need to do the pork brine thing as well, everyone always raves about it. It all sounds delicious.

Suzy said...

This looks simply gorgeous!

The Caked Crusader said...

What a lovely looking dish - probably because of the red cabbage, this looks like a Christmas style dinner

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Great combination Sara! It looks very elegantly plated too :)

Sophie said...

Sara, you did a superb job! wow, looks so appetizing!!! In Belium, we eat a lot of red cabbage! MMMMMM.....

CookiePie said...

WOW - that looks amazing! The cabbage sounds fabulous too. What a perfect dinner!

Sara said...

Great looking dish. I love the color of the cabbage.

I have made a few roasted and braised pork loins but I haven't tried brining. This looks like a good idea.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I've brined once and it was an expirimental thing and I haven't blogged about it yet. Your pork loins looks fabulous and the red cabbage makes it looks so festive.

Cakelaw said...

This is unusual, but aounds delicious - love the red cabbage.

I have also given you an award here:

http://kitchenlaw.blogspot.com/2009/02/ethiopian-experience-doro-wot-chicken.html

Cathy said...

Looks great! I love anything with red cabbage.

Cheryl said...

Sarah, that looks really delicious, my mom would of made something like that. I am fairly new to brining as well, but now we bring just about everything!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

This looks very good. I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Looks and sounds delicious!

Elyse said...

How beautiful is that dish? I shall answer my own rhetorical question and tell you: very beautiful, so beautiful in fact, that I'm thinking about hitting up the grocery store and making this for dinner! (Plus, I'm on a total cabbage kick, so this is perfect!)

lisaiscooking said...

I haven't used salt-packed capers, but you've convinced me I need to try them!

Deborah said...

I love to brine, but rarely plan far enough ahead. This sounds delightful, though!

Maria said...

Red cabbage is so pretty! Great addition to this dish!

Donna-FFW said...

Such pretty color that cabbage has. The brine sounds really yummy. I do a similar dish braised. Haven't tried with the capers, and mine usesapple cider vinagar rather than balsamic. I have to try this for a change. Looks great.

Alex said...

Well, it looks awesome! How did you find the capers and sage worked with the cabbage in the end?

LeslieVeg said...

Hi Sara, Thanks for visiting my Blog! I hope to see you again!
Funny Story, My poor Hubby grew up eating overcooked dried up pork chops that had been Cooked to DEATH (like an hour for a thin chop!) He said they were like shoe leather! ha
NOW he refuses to eat Pork!
I am a vegetarian, but I do cook meat for him, I bet he would love this!
Come back and visit!
Leslie
LeslieVeg@msn.com
http://leslielovesveggies.blogspot.com/

pigpigscorner said...

Yes I agree! Brining does wonders. The cabbages sounds really good actually. I bought a jar of capers in brine. Didn't like it as the flavour is very mild. Doesn't do much to a dish. I will try the salted ones next!

Diana said...

I've always been a little leery about brining, but this looks fabulous! Love the recipe for the cabbage!

Olga said...

That looks really good! I think I still haven't used a brining method :)

I buy my capers in the brine.

The Duo Dishes said...

There are always so many great pork recipes that we've yet to try. Including this one. Nice presentation too!

Dragon said...

What a great flavour combination! Gorgeous.

Varsha Vipins said...

I dont eat Pork..But the choice of spices and all sound so yum Sara..also I like the click of it on top of Red cabbage..:)

EAT! said...

Brining is key. I usually cook pork tenderloins which are more moist/tender than other cuts of pork. By brining, you are insured a delicious all the time.

The cabbage recipe looks delicious. I even have a head of cabbage in my fridge waiting for a recipe.

Sara said...

Rosie - I don't usually make the turkey on thanksgiving, but if I'm ever tasked with it, I'm going to try a brine.

Elra and Selba - I also love red cabbage with apples. In fact, a few weeks ago I made red cabbage with apples, ginger, maple and bacon. It was quite good.

Alex - The flavor combination worked better than I anticipated. I made two changes from the original recipe, which are reflected in my recipe. I chopped the capers finely so that they would disperse more evenly, and I used slightly less sage.

Karin said...

Traditionally, we only serve red cabbage salad on the Christmas table. It's a side dish for Christmas ham, meatballs or spareribs. Apples and shredded red cabbage are cooked together with onion, sugar, vinegar and spices. Sweet and sour.
Very yummy.

Claudia said...

Love brined pork! And always think a pork roast is a "fall thing" Why do I associate some foods only with a season? Cabbage looks yummy. Hmmm .... red .... color....

Colleen said...

We LOVE pork loin - and the cabbage looks like something I need to try!

Peggy said...

I really really really really want to come eat at your house!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

There isn't much you can do to make me not love pork. MMMMMM

That is an interesting combination with the cabbage, but sometimes you have to cook outside the box to discover something delicious.

Passionate Eater said...

You know, I have never tried brining pork, although I have tried brining chicken. I will have to attempt brining on pork, and also, this lovely red cabbage and pork loin recipe!

Carolyn Jung said...

Cabbage is one of those under-rated veggies we take for granted. It's amazing, though, how good it is in simple preparations. And in this economy, it's also one affordable veg.

Natashya said...

I would love to try salt packed capers, but can't find them here. I have to settle for the brined ones.
The flavour combo does sound really different but if you loved it then I am sure it is amazing!

Karen said...

I love pork that has been brined. The flavor and texture changes are amazing!

Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. said...

Campanile is one of my favorite restaurants. Their food is so out of this world.
The photo looks absolutely amazing. Love it.

Jan said...

Love the cabbage and the addition of capers! Double YUM!!

ChefBliss.com said...

As someone who has a lot of pork loin in the freezer I thank you!! :)

Tangled Noodle said...

Oh yes! I've brined turkey and loved it so I know this will be sooo good. And as you know, I'm a cabbage fan, too!

Ashley said...

This looks great! I haven't brined pork before, but I know it must be fabulous!

Mommy Gourmet said...

oh my that looks good. I haven't brined pork before either but I sure will be trying it!

Kevin said...

That looks like a tasty meal! What an amazing colour the cabbage has!

Maggie said...

The cabbage flavorings do sound interesting. I haven't cooked much with capers but will look out for the salt packed ones so I can give this a try.

James said...

Pork, well anything with red cabbage is a winner.

Still haven't tried the brining thing - sounds like I have to!