Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reinventing a Classic- Pork a L'Orange

Well I don't think I have to clarify to anyone that I absolutely love pork. After all, I am a long-time Iowa girl and I often choose pork as my preferred protein when creating new recipes. What's not to love about pork- it's lean, delicious and juicy, and right now one of the most affordable meats on the market. A far cry from the days of pork chops fried to the point of old shoe leather, today's pork is nearly foolproof. It's no wonder I've taken such an interest in adapting classic vintage recipes to a new pork twist. Take this classic French dish, A L'Orange, the timeless roasted duck with orange sauce. Citrus goes so perfect with pork, I'm sure you will love this dish as much as I do.

Widely known as a classic French dish, Duck a L'Orange has a foggy history. Many Italians claim it was stolen from them. Asian cooks all have their own interpretation of the dish as well, with warm spices. Food historians claim the dish may date back thousands of years to regions of the Middle East, where pairing citrus fruits with fatty meats like duck was quite common. Regardless of where and when it was first created, it enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in Europe and the United States. I can remember my dad, the original seventies-era foodie, roasting duck on Christmas Day, slowly rendering out all that lovely fat, crisping the skin, and then lovingly basting on the orange juice mixture until the duck was a deep golden brown and more fragrant than any other dish I ever remember him cooking. Growing up in a family of Minnesota hunters and anglers, wild duck and pheasant were more often than not part of the holiday menu and duck was without a doubt my favorite.

As an adult I've grown quite attached to traditional French recipes. Of course, that does not mean that I am going to prepare them "by the book"- I am way too much of a rebel for that! So I set about perfecting the orange sauce so that it accompanies pork in just as a delicious a fashion as the original duck, and comes together quickly with readily available ingredients and I think I've hit it with this recipe. I pored over numerous recipes before coming up with what I think is the best adaptation, and because I used so many recipes for reference, I honestly can't claim this as "mine" except for the super simple sauce. After all, roast pork is a kitchen standard every cook should master.

Make this recipe on a heavy baking sheet with a rim. If you use a large sheet you can make a one-pan dinner, which is a pretty popular trend right now- sheet pan suppers.

Pork A L'Orange

1 boneless pork tenderloin roast, 2-3 lb
salt, pepper, meat seasoning of choice
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
cooking oil
baby potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb haricots vert, or fresh green beans, trimmed

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Spread a couple tablespoons of oil in the baking sheet. Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper or your favorite meat seasoning or rub. I used both Montreal Steak Seasoning and Feiny's Everything Rub. Place the roast on the baking sheet. Combine the marmalade, lemon juice and mustard. Spoon over the roast.

Add the baby potatoes to the baking sheet, rolling around in the oil to coat the potatoes. Sprinkle with additional seasoning. Roast for 30 minutes.

On a second baking sheet, spread another tablespoon or so of oil. Add the haricots vert and toss in the oil. Sprinkle liberally with the seasoning. Place in the oven with the potatoes and pork. Roast until the meat registers 145 degrees. This should be 15-30 minutes more. Check the temp of the meat at 15 minutes. Remove from oven, place the meat on a board and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest ten minutes. Slice the meat on the diagonal and serve with roasted potatoes and beans, drizzle with pan juices if desired. Sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, such as thyme or parsley, if you like. 

Rest your roast! You'll keep the juice in the meat and off
your board
Right now pork is such an affordable option and this recipe really dresses up what can sometimes be a boring cut of meat. It's elegant enough for dinner guests or date night, and quick enough for a weeknight dinner. No need for a fancy sauce either- this roast makes its own with the pan juices and the orange marmalade. The juices melt the kinda-burned spots of the marmalade on the pan and create a rich caramelly drizzle that's really really good stuff.

Even the leftovers look delicious. Drizzle any leftovers
with a little of those caramelly pan juices.
The best time for making a roast is when it's cold and nasty outside. If I described the forecast for Des Moines right now you would be just as disgusted as me- snow and lots of it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE winter, just not two feet of it. I might as well crank up the oven and throw in a pork roast, whip up some orange sauce, roast some baby potatoes and haricots vert and daydream about having lunch on a sunny day in a Parisian cafe. Sure beats the view out my window- swirling piles of snow.

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