Hello all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed good food with your loved ones.
Are you full yet? I know I am. But that doesn’t stop me from eating some more. Well, it is the holidays after all. I can feel guilty about it afterwards. For the time being, let me rejoice in the food and the people I love. I suggest you do the same.
Greeks traditionally eat pork on Christmas and/or on New Year's. So if you would like to feast like a Greek, let me share with you a recipe for pork loin with petimezi that is truly delicious, if I do say so myself.
Petimezi is Greek grape molasses which comes from moustos (grape must). The thick, viscous petimezi is used in Greek cuisine as a condiment in salad dressings, to enrich sauces for meat and poultry, with eggs, cheese, in traditional cakes and cookies named moustokouloura, you name it. Here, I used it as part of a glaze along with mustard and olive oil.
The pork, slathered with the glossy glaze, sits on a bed of garlic heads cut in half, sliced juicy oranges and lemons, and whole, aromatic fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage. Everything gets a generous drizzle of olive oil and the pork is roasted in the oven. After an hour, out comes the succulent meat.
The pork’s crust is slightly caramelized and underneath hides the juicy and tender meat. The fragrance of the citrus, of the sweet and sour petimezi, of the herbs and the mustard has permeated the pork and its flavor is now sweet, tangy and zesty. The sauce, made from the deglazed pan juices, petimezi (again) and balsamic vinegar, finished off with some butter to give it a beautiful sheen, completes the picture. Poured all over the slices of supple meat, it is a wonderful combination and a winner on a festive table.
I wish you all a Happy New Year with health and happiness!
Petimezi and mustard-glazed roasted pork loin with herbs and citrus fruits, and a petimezi and balsamic vinegar sauce
Pork loin is lean so it needs careful cooking as it can dry out very easily. Having a meat thermometer is very handy to ensure that it’s cooked properly.
I love serving it with the garlic that has cooked down to soft, plump cloves and with the herbs, picking some with each bite to give extra flavor to the meat. Roast potatoes, rice or celeriac purée and a big salad would make great accompaniments.
Don’t be tempted to serve the pork without the sauce. It needs it, not only for flavor but for moistness.
I didn’t add any flour to the sauce because I didn’t want it to be thick, but if you prefer it on the thick side, add half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of flour or corn flour.
Yield: 6 servings
1.2 kg center-cut pork loin (with a little fat on top, no bones), tied (you can ask your butcher to tie it for you if can’t do it)
1 large orange, sliced thickly
1 lemon, sliced
2 heads of garlic, cut in half crosswise
4-5 fresh rosemary sprigs
5 fresh sage sprigs
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
Freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
for the glaze
4 Tbsp Greek petimezi (grape-must syrup/grape molasses)
2 Tbsp mild-flavored mustard
for the sauce
200 ml chicken stock
2 Tbsp petimezi
½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ Tbsp unsalted butter
Special equipment: large baking pan (preferably suitable also for the stovetop), pastry brush, meat thermometer, sieve
Take the pork out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking so it can come to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
Arrange the orange and lemon slices in a baking pan in one layer. Place wider slices in the center so the pork can sit on them comfortably. Add the half garlic heads between the citrus slices. Arrange the whole sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme mainly in the middle of the pan.
Prepare the glaze by whisking the petimezi and mustard in a small bowl to combine.
Rinse the pork and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub it well all over with 3 Tbps olive oil and season it well all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer it to the middle of the pan (fat-side up), on top of the citrus slices and fresh herbs and using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides with some of the glaze (see photo). Drizzle the remaining 3 Tbps of olive oil over the citrus fruits around the pan and pour in also the water.
Place the pan on the low rack of your preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Take it out and glaze the pork with the glaze mixture using the pastry brush. Make sure to be very gentle so you don’t remove the previous layer of glaze.
Roast for a further 20 minutes on the low rack of the oven. During roasting, check if the pan is dry and if so, add a little more water.
Take the pan out and glaze the pork for the last time with the glaze mixture, being gentle again with the brush. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven this time and roast the pork for a further 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle of the loin reads 65ºC.
Take the pan out of the oven and remove the pork from the pan and onto a board. The temperature of the pork will continue to rise while resting, a couple of degrees. You can cover it very loosely with aluminum foil if you wish to keep it warm.
While the pork rests, prepare the sauce. Remove the garlic and herbs from the pan. Press the orange and lemon slices through a sieve to get their juice, letting it fall into the pan. Discard the citrus slices.
Place the baking pan on the stovetop over medium heat and pour in the chicken stock. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pan. Take it off the heat and pour the liquid through a sieve and into a small saucepan.
Note: In case your baking pan/dish can't be put on the stovetop (for example, clay pots may break when put on direct heat), add the chicken stock to the pan and return pan to the oven (which you have kept at 190ºC) for 5-10 minutes or until the stock starts to simmer. Remove pan from the oven and deglaze, using a wooden spoon. Continue with the recipe instructions as described above.
To the saucepan, add the petimezi and balsamic vinegar as well as a little black pepper, set over medium-high heat and let it simmer and reduce by a third. Don’t let it get syrupy, it needs to be on the thin side. Add the butter and whisk it in. Check the seasoning and add salt if you think it needs it. Don’t add salt in the beginning because the flavor of the sauce concentrates as it cooks down so it may be too salty.
To serve, cut off and discard the twine from the pork carefully so you don't remove the crust and discard it. Place the pork on a platter and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Pour the sauce in a small container with a spout so you can add as much or as little as you wish. Slice the pork and pour the sauce over it.
Serve with the garlic and herbs.