Pork, Apples and Polenta Cakes

For one reason or another I had a bunch of apples at home. It seems whenever we go to the store we buy apples whether we have some in the crisper drawer or not. So, when I picked up a nice pork loin at a local Asian grocery store with a thick layer of fat and skin on it, it seemed like a no brainer. Pork and apples.

I sliced some apples and cooked them sous vide with some butter, star anise and a couple of cinnamon sticks in the bag. These cooked for about an hour at 85 C and were firm but fully cooked at the end. With half of these I made a barbeque sauce, based on the recipe at Tri2Cook’s recipe here. I subbed apples and apple cider vinegar for the blueberry and blueberry vinegar. Other than that the recipe was done as is. The end results was very nice and I still have some in the fridge to serve in a sandwich or with sausages. The other half of the apples was sauted in butter at the last minute and drizzled with Steen’s Cane syrup at the same time to give it a nice caramelized surface.

The Polenta cakes were made based on the recipe from “Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way” by Frnacis Mallmann. They are flavored with Parmesan and fresh oregano. I chose to roll the cooked polenta in plastic wrap into a sausage shape and then slice them into rounds for a more elegant presentation. These were finished on the cast iron griddle on the grill. Crispy on the outside and soft inside. I could eat a whole recipe by myself.

Continuing with the apple theme, I brined the pork loin in a mixture of apple juice with cinnamon sticks, salt and sugar. I then cooked it on the charcoal grill using indirect heat. In hindsight I think I should’ve removed the skin and simply left a layer of fat. In the time the loin cooked to rosy pink, the skin just does not cook down enough to turn soft and crisp. Instead it gets dark and hard. Other than that the pork was juicy and delicious with the brine flavor coming through. It also made excellent cold sandwiches for a day or two. As a last minute whim, I picked some Oxalis leaves and pods from my “garden” (really from my lawn) and used these tart weeds as garnish.

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4 thoughts on “Pork, Apples and Polenta Cakes”

  1. I don’t know what you mean when you talk about the skin of the loin. What I call the loin is an internal cut which has no skin. Perhaps you’re talking about the silverskin on the loin, or perhaps just some layer of fat around it?

    In any case, I can tell you that the whole thing looks delicious. I can also tell you that the loin turns black because of the sugar in the brine. It’s the sugar from the cider (and whatever sugar you added) that’s caramelizing and then (deliciously) burning.

  2. David-
    Are you maybe thinking of the tenderloin (fillet)??
    As opposed to the very trimmed loin you can buy from a regular grocery stores, the Asian grocery stores sell it with fat and skin. So, you have the loin, a thick layer of awesome fat (backfat) and and then the skin. It’s the skin that has a very high level of collagen and needs a long slow cooking process as opposed to the loin which is tender and is cooked relatively quickly. I don’t mind the black crust on the skin. It is delicious, but I do mind it being very tough. I think removing the skin and leaving the fat on (that renders with no problem) is probably a better idea than attempting to cook the skin and loin at the same time. The skin can be cooked separately and then fried to crisp and served as a garnish…

  3. Oh, I see. I’ve never seen loin sold with the backfat and skin. Cool! On the other hand, I have seen bone-in loin chops sold with the fat and skin, so I suppose it’s logical that they could sell it before cutting it into chops. Weird.

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