I think I have mentioned this before, but my boyfriend’s mom is a wonderful cook. I’ve known this great lady for more than a couple of decades now and besides being smart, witty and a gorgeous woman, she is a genius in the kitchen. She is one of those cooks who can try something once, analyze the flavors in her head and file the information away for later. I have never seen her reach for a cookbook and she seems to be able to make anything.
Why did I call this post “the goddess of protein”? My boyfriend’s mom was a dental hygienist in a former life. When she went to school, she had to learn about nutrition. Nutrition has always been something she continues to study and through the years, she has been a champion of protein. As the food fads have come and gone over the years, she has ignored any new fangled reasoning that says things like substituting processed vegetable proteins for meat or margarine for butter is better for you. Time and time again, she seems to be proved right. She believes the body needs plenty of protein and that red meat is good for you because of the high quality protein and B vitamins the meat provides. That being said, if you eat at her house, you will most likely eat something meaty and probably red meaty, but I have always noticed that she always serves a balanced meal. There will be a healthy starch and plenty of vegetables too. The secret to her healthy habits is to shun refined sugar and processed foods. She cooks her food from scratch and anything she makes will taste better than what you will eat in a restaurant. This woman is in her sixties now and you wouldn’t know it. Over the years , she has always looked a decade (or two) younger than she is. When I first met her son, people would consistently mistake her for his sister. Her diet advice does work!
Some of the best meals I have ever had have been at her house. When I was younger and learning to cook, her son taught me how to make many of their family staples but I would sometimes ask him to call her and ask her how to make certain things. One day when he was talking to his mom, she described a pork roast she made, it sounded so delish that I asked him to ask her how she made it. Since she never uses recipes, I was expecting her to give him general directions about the process and not give him approximations of how much of this or that to use. She was able to tell him exactly how much of each ingredient to use off of the top of her head and the “recipe” he wrote down was perfect. Anything in the recipe that is an approximation is what it is because you don’t need measurements. What a goddess!! I have made this roast over and over again and I am always stunned at how perfect it is. The only thing I changed was to double the basting sauce. The sauce that results from this recipe is like manna from heaven. I always require pools of it to ladle over the meat and onto a hot steamy pile of long grain brown rice, which is the perfect partner for this dish. Round out the meal with your favorite pile of simply steamed veggies and a good red wine and you will be an extremely happy diner.
Pork loin roast with curried apple sauce
For the roast:
2 ½ lb (or slightly larger) Pork Loin Roast
6-10 cloves of garlic (or more), halved or quartered if large
For the sauce:
½ cup teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp mustard powder (Go for a mild not hot mustard like Coleman’s)
2 cups fresh apple juice
1 cup white wine
½ tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp curry powder
3 to 4 tbsp honey (less if using a sweet light honey, more if using a complex dark honey)
garlic powder, to taste
onion powder, to taste
pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees f. Poke holes in the top, bottoms and sides of the roast and insert the garlic cloves or garlic clove pieces into the holes. Pork loin roasts are usually two pieces of pork tied together, jam some garlic in between the two pieces of pork. The garlic will cook in the meat and give it a nice garlicky flavor but the garlic never really softens all of the way. I like the garlic pieces even though they are still pretty intense. If you love garlic be generous with it. If you aren’t a big fan (I will lose my respect for you but…), use a lot of garlic anyway and eat around the whole cloves that fall out of your meal. Liberally sprinkle the garlic power, oregano and curry powder over the top of the roast. When you are ready to bake the roast, lower the heat to 325 degrees f, put the roast in the oven where you will roast the meat for at least a good half hour before you begin to baste the meat. Cook the roast for about 45 minutes per pound (I cooked the 2 ½ pound roast for about two hours which was a little long but we like our pork a little well done around here).
Meanwhile, place all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Taste the sauce. If you like a sweeter sauce, add a little more honey. If the sauce seems a bit sweet, add more garlic powder or onion powder. Before you tweak the sauce, remember that the sauce will concentrate and the flavors will deepen in the oven. Begin basting the meat after it has roasted for between a half hour to forty-five minutes. Baste the meat every 15 to 20 minutes or so. Serve the meat with plenty of sauce.