Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pan-roasted Pork Loin – Camp Style

Serves 4

2 – 2 ½ lb boneless pork loin roast

Place the following in a bowl or plastic container that can be tightly covered:

2 garlic cloves, finely slivered or crushed

¼ C Balsamic vinegar

2 TLBS soy sauce

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix ingredients together in bowl. Place the pork loin in the marinade, turning the meat so that all surfaces are exposed to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate, allowing meat to marinate in the mixture for at least 6 hours, or it can be left overnight in refrigerator. Turn meat about half-way through the marinating process. The longer it marinates, the more tender the meat becomes.

1 tsp cooking oil (enough to cover pan surface)

4 medium bliss potatoes, sliced in half

One medium Bermuda (purple) onion, sliced, medium thick.

(white/yellow or sweet onion is fine)

Heat a very large iron skillet. Add oil when pan is hot and spread the oil across bottom of pan with metal spatula. Place potato, slice-side down in pan.

Add onion. Cover. Lower heat to medium-low. After 15 – 20 minutes, check for doneness (golden -brown on sliced side) of potatoes. Sick the end of a sharp knife into the top of potato – it should slide in easily if done. Slide fully cooked potatoes and onion to edges of pan.

Place pork loin with garlic and marinade into the center of the pan. Cover. Roast over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes. Turn meat over and allow to cook for another 20-25 minutes. Use a meat thermometer or make a small slice to check doneness. Meat should lose its pink color when done.

1 can water chestnuts, drained

1 6-10 oz pkg snap peas or fresh snap peas,

cleaned and trimmed

Optional: 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

The water chestnuts can be added to the same pan if there is enough surface room. If there is not enough room, heat another small frying pan for the water chestnuts and pour in enough cooking oil to cover pan surface when pan is hot.

Add one small can of drained water chestnuts to pan. Spread water chestnuts in a single layer in the pan. After ten minutes, turn water chestnuts over and allow them to brown on the other side for 10 - 15 minutes.

Add 6 -10 oz fresh or frozen snap peas. Leave in covered pan 5 minutes. If snap peas are fresh, allow them to simmer in pan for 6 minutes or until heated, but still crisp.

Optional: Sprinkle 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds sprinkle 2 tsp. over the snap peas.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: If all the ingredients were cooked together in one pan, serve up camp style in the skillet or in two separate serving containers. Serve with a bowl of unsweetened applesauce with a dash of cinnamon, or a baked apple. Shiraz is a fine compliment to this dish.

©Wilma Carolyn Johnson Short

FOODNOTES: For a number of year now, I have become accustomed to roasting meats in an iron skillet while we are up in the woods of New Hampshire. It is often too hot to turn on the oven, as well as the fact that our camp oven is a complicated thing to run. We would often roast potatoes cut in half to save baking time . The potatoes retain their flavor. The purple onion enhances the flavor of the potato, pork, water chestnuts and snap peas, basically tying the flavors together.

Toward the end of one summer in New Hampshire, I looked at what few ingredients I had remaining in my larder; balsamic vinegar and soy sauce were two, so I decided to marinate a pork loin roast I had just purchased at Gomarlo's Food and Circus. Once the onions were translucent and the potatoes were tender, I pushed them into a circle around the edge of the pan, then added the marinated roast. Later came the water chestnuts. Lastly came the frozen snap peas which had thawed. All I had to do was warm them, since they had already been cooked.

I was delighted at how tender that marinated meat was. I could almost cut it with a fork (it may be I don't have the muscle), but, it was so tasty. I wrote down exactly the way I prepared this meal, so that I could repeat this delightful “cooking in the woods” dish.

Only one cooking pan is required for preparing and serving this dish, but it needs to be quite large. This makes clean-up a snap. The combination of ingredients compliment each other quite well. The crispy edge of the potato takes on some of the flavors of the marinaded roast, but the basic nutty potato flavor is baked inside because of the covered roasting effect and the crispy edge of the sliced potato adds an interesting texture to this dish. The flavor is seared in. This dish is excellent with a sprinkle of flavored salt, such as Adobo salt.

As I prepare this recipe for my blog, I recall the New Hampshire pines, so tall and still,the oak, birch and maple tree tops stirring in the wind. I envision children exclaiming, “I got one” from the Frog Pond, below the hill where we share our summer months. The air smells country fresh and the murmur of camper voices comes and goes like a distant tide. The owls echo each others lulling hoo-hoo h'hoo at night as the campfires dwindle. On a clear night, the stars are often the only entertainment I need. Being away, down south in Rhode Island for eight months certainly makes the heart grow fonder.

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