By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Maybe it comes from a picture you saw on Instagram or maybe it comes from the constant smells that envelope your neighborhood when the local smokehouse is at work.
Some times, inspiration comes from necessity. We live 10 miles from the grocery store and when the pantry is looking a bit bare, I often find myself wondering what I could possibly do, to create a worthy dish with just what is on hand. It’s not like I am training for Chopped or anything, I’m just looking to provide a great meal for my family.
Whenever I am faced with such a challenge, the first place I turn is to the spice cabinet. Spices and dried herbs offer flavor possibilities that tend to be a good starting point when coming up with a new dish.
- 1 Pork Loin
- 1 Large Purple Onion, Cut Into Large Chunks
- 2-3 Plum Tomatoes, Cut Into Small Wedges
- Arugula Lettuce
- 1/2 Cup Chipotle Peppers en Adobo, Chopped Fine
- 1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chopped Fine
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
- 2 Cups Whole Milk
- 4 Tbs. Bacon Fat
- 3 Tbs. Flour
- 1/2 Cup Mexican Cotija Cheese, Grated Fine
- 3 Tbs. Mexican Oregano
- 1 Tbs. Fresh Parsley, Chopped Fine
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add your chopped chipotle peppers en adobo, sun dried tomatoes, minced garlic, 2 tbs. Mexican Oregano, parsley, a pinch of salt, a pinch of cracked black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix together well.
- Take your pork loin and place in the center of a small baking dish. You don’t want the baking dish to be too big. Cooking Tip: When braising meat, the idea is to provide constant moisture throughout the cooking process. If the baking dish or roasting pan is too large, then the braising liquid will evaporate and be absorbed. You want the meat to sit in a shallow bath.
- Cover the sides and top of the pork loin with your chipotle and tomato marinade. Don’t be shy about how thick you add the marinade. Add your onions around the pork loin and gently add your vegetable broth to the baking dish.
- Cover your baking dish tightly with foil. Place on the center rack of your oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until your pork is cooked completely through.
- Once your pork is done, remove from the oven and gently baste with the juices from the pan and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- While your pork is resting, take a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Melt your bacon fat. Cooking Tip: Anytime I make bacon, I let the bacon grease cool in the skillet and then pour into a small glass bowl and save in the refrigerator for up to a week. Great way to impart bacon flavor to sauces.
- Once your fat has melted, add your flour, a pinch of salt and pinch of cracked black pepper. Mix together well with a wire whisk and cook for 2-3 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Your rue should be a light brown color. While whisking heavily, pour your whole milk into the skillet. Be sure to continuously whisk your sauce base to ensure there are no lumps and has a creamy consistency.
- Finally, add your Cotija Cheese and remaining tbs. of Mexican Oregano. Whisk until your cheese is completely melted and incorporated. Continue cooking, stirring or whisking regularly, until your sauce has thickened to your desired consistency. Immediately remove from the heat.
- With your pork loin rested, slice into thin slices and fan out around your plate, starting from the center of the plate. Remember, how your dish is presented is just as important as the aroma and taste of the dish. Drizzle your Cojita Cheese sauce over your meat and top with arugula and fresh tomato wedges.
- Enjoy this Mexican inspired pork loin with your closest friends and family.