Apple and Five-Spice Pork Loin

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There are some foods that just belong together: peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, pork chops and applesauce. In this dish pork and apples grow up, cooking in a mixture of juice and Riesling that reduces with the pan drippings into a velvety sauce.

SERVES 6-8

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon five-spice powder, plus an additional pinch for the sauce
One 1½ – 2 lb boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
2 cups apple juice
1½ cups white wine, such as Riesling
1 large sweet onion, Frenched
2 medium cooking apples, cored and cut into 1” thick slices
2 tablespoons butter

Combine half the olive oil, ginger, shallot and five-spice powder in a large bowl or plastic storage bag. Add pork and turn several times to coat in the marinade. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight, then let sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting.

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over high heat. When it sizzles, gently lay the pork loin fat side down and reduce heat to medium, then season the top with salt and pepper. When the fat is a deep, caramel brown – about 5 minutes – flip over and brown for an additional five minutes.

Pour apple juice and wine into the pan and bring to a rolling boil. Transfer the pork loin to the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F. Remove the pork loin to a carving board and tent with foil. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a fat separator, and return pan to the stove over medium heat.

Skim about 3 tablespoons of fat from the separator and add back to the pan. Add onion and apple slices and sauté until lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Add strained liquid and the pinch five spice powder. Turn heat to high, then boil until reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in the butter a bit at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Carve pork and serve with sauce.

Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated writer, cookbook author, humorist, chef/owner of the highly-acclaimed Robicelli’s Bakery, occasional TV personality, raconteur, wife, mother, and all-around good time.

Image: Pixabay