Pork is one of those beautiful meats that goes well with fruit in such a way that it almost seems incomplete without a hint of natures nectar. One of the most classic of pairings for pork is with apples. Somehow the savoriness of pork and the crisp sweet of apples come together in a way that forces the two to become a beautiful fusion of two of the most recognized flavors we, as humans, enjoy but usually in completely separate settings. With these two ingredients in mind, I went to work on how to elaborate and build upon them.
Pork loin is beautiful when seared on the outside to create a crust of flavor and then allow to cook through in the oven. Sometimes it’s good just to roast it, but in this instance, I choose to sear rosemary, garlic, and ginger into the outside. On the inside, wine steamed into the pork to make tender meat in each bite and allowed for a more complex taste.
Apples and chestnuts, another favorite pairing, were given a hint of heat with a bit of cayenne pepper and rosemary and sauteed in butter. A little more wine into the pan made them have more of a connection to the pork so they became cohesive rather than standalone in their flavor.
The apples and chestnuts don’t just give flavor to this dish though. They are used for a pleasant mouthful in each bite. A bit of crunch, a hint of sweet with savory, and a simply charming melange of flavor and texture.
This dish may seem more complicated than what the novice cook would enjoy trying, but it can be done with just a bit of focus and ambition!
Pork Loin and Chestnuts with Wine Sautéed Apple Slices
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 2 shallots
- 1 firm red apple
- 1 firm green apple
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1½ pounds pork loin
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
- 2 cups pre cooked and peeled chestnuts
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup white wine divided
Preheat the oven at 350 F.
On a cutting board peel the garlic and ginger. Slice the ginger thinly and mince the ginger. Peel, trim the root end off of the shallots, and cut them into wedges. Wash and thinly slice the apples, removing and discarding the core. Remove the stems from the rosemary.
Season the pork loin with half of the rosemary, a third of the garlic and ginger, and a sprinkle of salt.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add in the rest of the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes. Add the shallot and cook another 3-4 minutes or until the shallot has started to soften.
Turn up the heat to high and place the pork loin into the hot pan and allow it to sear; cooking about 3-5 minutes before turning and cooking the other side until brown marks form. Transfer the pork loin to a baking dish.
Reduce the heat for the sauté pan to medium. Add the butter and allow it to melt before adding the apple slices and cooking 1 minute, stirring to let the butter coat the apples. Season the apples with the cayenne, the rest of the rosemary and salt, and stir again. Cook another 3-4 minutes.
Add the chestnuts to the pan and stir well to coat. Pour half of the wine into the pan, scraping any of the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and allow it to simmer until the wine has reduced by about half.
Transfer everything in the pan to the dish with the pork loin. Pour the rest of the wine into the dish and cover it with aluminum foil.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil from the baking dish and allow it to cook another 10-15 minutes or until the pork is at between 145-160 F temperature.
Remove the dish and allow the pork to rest 10 minutes before slicing it and serving.
STEP ONE – PREHEAT OVEN AND CUT THE INGREDIENTS
Turn the oven on to 350F and allow it to heat up.
Peel the garlic cloves and trim the root ends with a paring knife and finely slice them. Peel the ginger with the knife and mince it with a mezzaluna or a chef’s knife. Peel the shallots and trim the ends before cutting them into small wedges.
Wash the apples thoroughly before using a paring knife to remove the core and seeds. Cut them both into thin slices. Remove the stems from the rosemary sprigs.
STEP TWO – SEASON THE PORK LOIN
Place the pork loin in a dish. Add half each of the sliced garlic, minced ginger, and rosemary to the pork and pat it into the outside. Sprinkle the loin with salt on all sides and pat it in as well.
STEP THREE – SAUTÉ GARLIC, GINGER, AND SHALLOTS
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add in the rest of the sliced garlic and ginger. Cook it for about 2 minutes while stirring so that nothing burns.
Add the shallots and cook them 3-4 minutes. They will be a bit glossy as they start to soften.
STEP FOUR – SEAR THE PORK LOIN
Turn up the heat on the burner to high and, using tongs, place the pork loin into the hot pan. Let the loin cook 3-5 minutes or until it’s seared and brown on the outside.
Turn and sear the other side.
Put the loin in a baking dish.
STEP FIVE –SAUTÉ APPLES
Turn the heat down to medium, melt the butter in the pan, and add the apple slices to the pan.
Turn them over in the butter so they are completely coated in it. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper and rosemary over the apples and stir again. Season them with a little salt.
STEP SIX – ADD CHESTNUTS AND WINE
Add the chestnuts to the pan and stir them with the apples to coat them with the herbs, spices, and butter.
Pour half of the wine into the pan, using a wooden spoon to gently scrape any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook down by about half.
STEP SEVEN – TRANSFER APPLES AND CHESTNUTS
Turn off the heat for the pan and move the apples and chestnuts to the baking dish with the pork loin, arranging them on either side of the loin. Pour any leftover wine and bits from the pan on top. Pour the rest of the wine into the dish.
STEP EIGHT – COOK THE LOIN, APPLES, AND CHESTNUTS
Cover the baking dish with aluminum and put it in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and, using pot holders, take the aluminum off of the dish and return it to the oven to cook another 10-15 minutes. Reserve the aluminum for later.
Check the temperature with a thermometer to be certain it reads between 145-160F.
STEP NINE – REMOVE PORK LOIN AND SLICE
Remove the baking dish from the oven and transfer the pork loin to a cutting board. Tent the reserved aluminum over the loin and let it rest about 10 minutes.
Slice the loin with a sharp knife and serve immediately with the apples and chestnuts.
What are your favorite flavor pairings with pork loin? Do you like your pork loin in the oven or on a grill? Let us know!