ROAST PORK LOIN AND ROMAINE SALAD WITH BLEU CHEESE
A MEAL LIKE THIS MAKES DINNER EPIC. AND RECIPES LIKE THIS MAKE IT EASY.
Pork loin at your big box store is less than $2 per pound. Thank goodness stores don't charge in proportion to flavor, because roasting that pork loin delivers so much deliciousness, it would take a royal ransom to pay for it.
And that is great news for so many families. You don't have to spend large to live large.
Bring out the best in a pork loin with the tips we offer below, and marry it with this crispy, flavorful salad that’s going to be a family favorite forever.
HOW TO MAKE AN EXCEPTIONAL ROAST PORK LOIN
Part of my alchemical obsession with great products is figuring out how to combine them to get something even better. This turns a company’s “simple solution” into something simply magical.
2 loins trimmed
3 heaping Tablespoons mustard with a teaspoon of honey. If you can find truffle oil in your grocery specialty section, add a few drops and stir it all up.
3 heaping Tablespoons brown sugar
1 heaping Tablespoon of a spicy chili sauce of your choosing
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
Get your meat thermometer ready. We don't want to guess when the loin's ready ... and we absolutely do not want to overcook it.
Mix the wet ingredients together, then give those loins a good bath in them, covering all surface areas.
Cover them tightly with plastic wrap and let them hang out in the refrigerator, ideally overnight but -- if time is critical -- at least marinate the loins for the time it takes to set the table, put the salad together, and prepare the tart.
In your EuroCAST grill pan, or the top of your EuroCAST double roaster, place the loins side by side.
Season with a sprinkling of 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F, until you've reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Take the loins out immediately when they reach that temperature. Let it rest at least three minutes -- or (as I recommend in this recipe) until it gets to room temperature. Frankly -- and this is just me -- I always cook to somewhat less than the target interior temperature and let it rest a long time. I remove the loins from the oven when the top is well-browned and it's firm to the touch, about 10 minutes before reaching the target temperature because (and this is science), the temperature will continue to rise even after the meat has been removed from the heat. This is a decidedly black belt maneuver and requires some finesse. If you follow the 145 degrees F guidance and let it rest at least three minutes, you'll do well.
As for resting: Remove the loins from the pan, put on a plate, and tent with foil. The point of resting is that the juices will retract into the meat. The loin becomes even more sumptuous.
Once the pork loin has come to room temperature, slice it wafer thin. Then drizzle with your best quality olive oil, top with a dash of salt and -- because it is my way -- sprinkle with crushed red pepper flake and edible flowers.
Why crushed red pepper flakes and edible flowers?
As Bonnie Raitt would say, let's give them something to talk about.
GRILLED ROMAINE SALAD WITH ST. AGUR BLEU CHEESE DRESSING
This is one of those “Wow, that never occurred to me” salads: Grilled romaine with an extra crispy veggie chop and a whip-easy-to-put-together dressing.
But the real star is the grilled lettuce.
Start with 2 heads romaine lettuce split in half. If they’re huge, split them into quarters. Either way, drizzle the split heads with a bit of olive oil.
Place the lettuce, cut side down, onto your hot EuroCAST grill pan, and grill until you have grill marks. TIP: Place them and trust them. Don't move them around. Gently peer underneath occasionally to check for grill marks. I use the top of another pot to press the lettuce into the pan. It makes for sharper lines.
Turn 1/4 in the pan and repeat.
I like my salads chilled. Like, colder than Superman's Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole in winter, at night, which it always is at the North Pole in winter. So, after you grill these girls up, put them back into the fridge.
You could, if you were calculating, grill these off in the morning and put them in the fridge before you head off into the day.
Use what you love. The extra sweet crunch of raw vegetables is such a welcome note on the plate against the smoky goodness of the grilled romaine. Here’s my list:
Peas or peapods
Chop them loosely, aiming for beauty and variety. Always a good aim.
ST. AGUR BLEU CHEESE DRESSING
St. Agur bleu cheese is one of my all time favorite cheeses. To make the ultimate bleu cheese dressing, I just chuck some St. Agur into a bottle of good-quality commercial bleu cheese dressing. Organic, if you please.
Wait, what? This isn't a recipe if you're using a prepared off-the-shelf dressing, right? Ah, but it is indeed a recipe. The St. Agur -- creamy and fascinating -- not only makes it "yours", it makes the story. People will love your salad with this version of this dressing.
After all, making dinner epic doesn't mean you have to make everything totally from scratch. You just have to make things with integrity, a point of view, and flavor people will remember.