We rarely cook pork without using spices to add piquant notes which complement the sweet and savoury qualities of good quality pork. I have previously written about two of the ways we do this – here and here.
In this substantially modified version of a Karen Martini recipe, four distinct, strong and contrasting ingredients are combined to make a rub, without the presence of any mollifying agents such as salt, oil or sugar.
1½ tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp orange zest
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 or 3 thin pork steaks or medallions, about 250g in total
50 ml orange juice
1 tsp sweet sherry
100 ml chicken stock
salt flakes for seasoning
- Combine fennel seeds, peppercorns, orange zest and rosemary leaves in a blender until you have a coarse powder. Press one quarter to one third of the mixture onto the chops and set aside for 30 minutes. (The leftover rub can be stored in a container in your freezer.)
- Heat butter in a small heavy-based pan over medium heat and brown pork for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm dish.
- Add orange juice and sherry, bring to a busy simmer and reduce by half. Add stock, return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. (At this point, we sometimes use some cornflour or similar to thicken the sauce a little more.)
- Return pork to pan, heat through and serve.
For side-dishes, we usually choose a plain green vegetable, eg fresh beans, and one of the orange-coloured vegetables, eg carrot, sweet potato; regular potatoes do not work with the flavours of the spiced pork and its gravy.
This time, I took some peeled and cubed Jap pumpkin, sprinkled it liberally with salt to reduce its water content, dried it off, tossed it in olive oil, added some thin slices of garlic and roughly chopped sage leaves and baked it for about 30 minutes. Then I sprinkled it with some coarse bread crumbs and baked it for a further 15-20 minutes. I also steamed some whole baby beetroot until al dente tender, peeled them, cut them into chunks and dressed them with a combination of sour cream, Dijon mustard and finely-chopped (minced) pieces of toasted walnut. All very tasty and satisfying.