Spring Pork Loin with Citrus Garlic Ginger Crust and Apple Onion ‘Salsa’

You know what’s great about trying new cuisine or ingredients? You can try them in new ways – or, I suppose, OLD ways with a new twist.

Are you confused? Sorry. Let me explain in detail:
This week I attempted Indian food for the first time – Tandoori Salmon. It was actually AMAZING. I bought fresh ginger for the recipe. I’ve used ginger before, but not very often. The combination of the extra ginger sitting there and the marinade I made for the salmon gave me an idea. I scrapped the recipe I was going to try for my Thursday meal and made up my own instead!

And now I’ll share it with you! I’m calling it “Spring Pork Loin” because I suppose I’m wishful thinking. It is mid-March after all, and the weather has topped 50º more than once this week! (But then again, in Chicago that means nothing. Reluctant prediction: we will get another snow storm in April.)

Pay attention to the captions on the photos – they include instructions!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Not pictured: 1 orange, cinnamon, soy sauce

Not pictured: cinnamon, soy sauce, 1 orange

I started with a 4 lb. pork loin which I patted dry with paper towels. Next I made the marinade, which also serves as our liquid for the crock pot.

1/8 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup soy sauce

Enough red wine to come to almost 3/4 cup - then add the juice of one orange

Enough red wine to come to almost 3/4 cup – then add the juice of half an orange

Now brush that marinade onto the pork.

I always use a pastry brush. I've never used it for pastry. ;)

I always use a pastry brush – which I’ve actually never used for pastry. 😉

I let that sit while I made the “crust”:

Start with about a 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Start with about a 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Add 1 Tblspn diced garlic and the zest from your orange

Add 1 Tblspn diced garlic and the zest from your orange

Stir in the Dijon mustard, then brush that ‘crust’ onto the pork:
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Be sure to get all sides and cover thoroughly. (More crust = more flavor!)

Put that baby in the crock pot!

Put that baby in the crock pot! (Fat side down)

Pour the remaining marinade into the pot. Just be careful not to wash away the crust. I poured mine in that little space you see above the pork.

Make the apple onion salsa by slicing an apple (I used Gala and a quarter of a Golden Delicious we had in the fridge. You see, I really do save and use everything. – almost -) and putting it in a bowl. Cut up half of a white onion by slicing vertically through the bulb 3 times, cutting in half crosswise, and then cutting a few times crosswise again to get big chunks. Put in bowl with apple. Add the applesauce, orange juice, and cinnamon, and toss.
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Now (gently) dump that ‘salsa’ on top of the pork! (I’m calling it a salsa because it’s the only word that comes close to a chunky kind of sauce. It’s not a slaw. It’s not a chutney. So it’s a salsa!)
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Cover any bit of the pork that is showing by moving the chunks around.

Now put on the lid and cook for 8 – 9 hours on LOW. I originally cooked mine for 8 on low, but had to cook it for an additional 30 mins on HIGH because it wasn’t as tender as I wanted.
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Here’s the finished product, ready to eat!
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Look at how caramelized the apples and onions were. They not only got soft but also soaked up the juice. The ginger and orange juice are bright against the deep, traditional ‘au jus’ flavors of the marinade, which is further balanced by the sweet apples. And the crust just melted right into the pork. So, maybe it was more of a ‘rub’ than a ‘crust’, since a crust implies crunchy, and crunchy it was not. It did however impart that nice spring flavor and extra layer of texture. All the pork has this great ginger scent. It’s just a hint, not too spicy or overwhelming. The meat was falling apart into shreds – just perfect to make a Second Meal of pork tacos or pork sandwiches!
I served it with a slightly modified version of these 
roasted sweet potatoes (yes, I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon!).

If you’re craving spring, give this a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredient List:
1 4lb Pork Loin
Marinade:
1/8 C soy sauce
–up to 3/4C red wine
Juice from 1 orange
Crust:
2 Tblspn Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 Tblspn diced garlic
Zest from 1 orange
Apple Salsa:
1 Apple, sliced
Half large white onion, chopped
1/3 C Applesauce
Juice from 1/2 an orange
Few dashes of cinnamon (I used 5)

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup!

One day a few years ago I came to work for a lunch shift and asked what the soup of the day was. Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup, they said. “WHAT?!” I thought… This combination sounded far from delicious to me.

That is, until I tried it.

And realized it was AMAZING!

This was back when I didn’t really even eat soup. I just didn’t really enjoy them at all. In my opinion, they weren’t filling enough for an entire meal. And even when I DID try to like soup, I only usually liked the creamy ones, which weren’t good for you anyway. So I figured I’d rather spend my calories on dessert (cuz that’s just the kinda girl I am).

This soup gives you all the richness of a cream-based soup without the guilt. It’s delicious and warms you to the core, if that’s what you want.

Now that you’re intrigued, how do you make it??

Start by roughly chopping some carrots. They can be big carrots, baby carrots, this time I even added some shredded carrots because I had them on hand. (To be more exact, you can use about 3/4 of a bag of baby carrots. I believe that’s what I used last time I made this.) Add some water to a little more than covering the carrots and salt it. Cover and cook on medium until the carrots are soft, probably about 20-30 minutes.

Carrots cooking!

Carrots cooking!

Next drain all but a very little bit of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

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Use  an immersion blender to puree the carrots. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can wait for the carrots to cool and then blend them in the blender, then put back in the pot to finish.

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Next pour in one can of coconut milk. (Usually you have to shake the can because the contents separate after being still on a shelf for so long.) Grate some fresh ginger into the soup. If I had to guess, I’d say about 1-2 teaspoons to taste.

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I’m not sure why the carrots look so much darker in this picture. I didn’t add pumpkin puree or something, even though it looks like I did. 😉

Mix again with the immersion blender until frothy. (I suppose you could use a hand-held blender here too, but it won’t be as smooth.)

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Add a couple pinches of all spice, pumpkin pie spice, and a couple drizzles of honey.

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Hmmm… what do you think is next? Blend, of course!

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This last time I accidentally bought ‘lite’ coconut milk, so I ended up adding a few splashes of heavy whipping cream 😦 It still tasted fine, it just bothered me that I had to use the cream since that’s the whole point of this soup: creamy but still healthy.

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Finished product… Enjoy and be warm!!

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*If you want to add a little counterpoint, you can sprinkle with parmesan cheese, or a bit of freshly grated Parmesan.