My Dad never met a piece of pork he didn’t like.
Chinese char siu cut into itty-bits and scrambled with eggs for breakfast.
Lacquered pork ribs from Chinatown to gnaw on blissfully until they were picked clean.
A big ham he’d stud with cloves and bake with rings of pineapple for Christmas dinner.
And neatly tied roasts brushed with soy sauce and honey, purposely big enough to allow for leftover slices to stuff into sandwiches packed for lunch the next day.
It’s been seven years since my Dad passed away. But every time I enjoy an exceptional porky meal, I can’t help but think of him.
Chef Charlie Palmer’s “Pork Loin with Oranges” is a dish I know he would have loved. My Dad wasn’t into fancy. While this dish isn’t pretentious, it’s pretty enough to be a party plate for a special celebration, yet easy enough to prepare for an every day meal.
It’s unfussy — just a generous pork loin roasted gently with an abundance of onion and fresh orange slices until the tangy citrus marries with the sweetness of the meat in perfect harmony.
The recipe is from “Charlie Palmer’s American Fare: Everyday Recipes from My Kitchens to Yours” (Grand Central Lifestyle), of which I received a review copy.
As the name implies, it’s a compilation of 100 recipes that aren’t highfaluten chef-y, but down home in nature. Palmer may own a slew of restaurants nationwide, but these are dishes that he cooks for his wife and kids at home, ones you’ll long to make, too. I’ve already got nearly a dozen pages bookmarked, including ones for “Slow-Roasted Fennel with Dill,” “Green Tea Soba Noodles with Tuna,” “Baked Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce,” and “Fig Crostata.”
As Palmer notes in the recipe, do use the best pork you can, preferably a heritage breed if you can get your hands on that. The loin is leaner than other porcine cuts, so it dries out easily. So don’t fear the fat you find on heritage breeds. It makes for a moister, more flavorful piece of pork.
And after all, Father’s Day is all about spoiling Dad, right?
Pork Loin with Oranges
4 large organic oranges
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large yellow onions, trimmed and cut crosswise into 8 slices each
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Wash 2 of the oranges well and pat dry. Trim both ends slightly and then cut each orange crosswise into 8 slices. Set aside. Juice the remaining 2 oranges and then strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Set the juice aside.
Heat the olive oil in a flameproof roasting pan over very low heat, without stirring, for a couple of minutes or until very warm.
Season the pork with salt and pepper and place, fat side down, in the roasting pan. Sear, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides.
Raise the heat and add the wine. Cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the wine has completely evaporated.
Add the reserved orange slices and the onion slices along with the orange juice to the pan. Add the bay leaves and season with additional pepper.
Cover the roasting pan with food and roast the pork for about 45 minutes or until the meat is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 145 degrees. You may want to check the meat occasionally as you don’t want the cooking liquid to evaporate. If it does begin to dry out, add water, no more than 1/4 cup at a time.
Remove from the oven, uncover the pan, and allow the pork to rest for 10 minutes.
Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the meat crosswise into thin slices. Arrange the slices, slightly overlapping, down the center of a platter and spoon the oranges and onions around the meat. Drizzle the entire platter with pan juices and serve sprinkled with chives.
From “Charlie Palmer’s American Fare”