Lombo di Maiale in Agrodolce alla Siciliana con le Mele
Sicilian-Styled Sweet and Sour Pork Loin with Apples
Sweet and sour is one of the worldwide best loved of all flavor combinations. The first thing that springs to mind when we think of it, is of course the Chinese variety, which although it has become so very ho-hum and out of fashion, still has an air of the "exotic" about it. And yet there are dishes in most cultures that combine sweet and sour elements, as are there many pork dishes that are prepared with apple- another great, classic combination. It really isn't so different and exciting anymore. Which is why I set about putting together a dish that would be refreshing and new, but based on some traditional Sicilian flavors.... something a little like this...
The combination of capers, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, is almost as Sicilian as you can get. Add pine-nuts into the mix and you are almost ready to join the cosa nostra- we are seriously talking old country! So I decided to use exactly those ingredients, to flavor the apple slices I wanted to used as a side to my rolls of pork. I cut the apple into slices- I used the variety called "Pink Lady", which has a very rich, deeply sweet flavor and sautéed them gently at a moderate heat with a tiny pat of clarified butter. I sprinkled them lightly with cumin seeds, salted and peppered them and grated them with a little nutmeg. I then added some sun-dried tomato cut into strips and some black olives , turned the heat up high, gave them a good squeeze of lemon juice and light sprinkle of finely chopped parsley. Next step is to crank the heat up high and to de-glaze the pan with a shot of white wine. I chose to use a sweet Sicilian wine called Zibibbo, which compliments the sweet apple and the sour lemon juice. The resulting juices of all these ingredients, go to combine and become a deliciously sweet and savory mix. Take the pan off the heat and set it to one side whilst we prepare the rolls...
For the rolls, I started out by preparing a "Julienne" of carrot and celery which I boiled in roughly a half cup of salted water until it had all evaporated... approx. 5 minutes. Once the water was gone, I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt, pepper and honey and set these to one side.
The little slices of pork-loin went into the same pan for 1 minute on either side and then were rolled, using the carrots and celery as a filling, I then rolled them together and wrapped them in a thin strip of bacon... pretty clever, eh? Starting off with the end-pieces of the bacon on the bottom, I seared the rolls shut, which eliminated any need for skewers or anything like that. Flip the rolls over to get them brown on all sides for 4-5 mines and then de-glaze the pan with a shot of Zibbibo wine. I seasoned the rolls with crushed garlic, dried thyme, a little cinnamon, a couple of cloves, some finely chopped ginger, salt, pepper and a little honey.
Now... we are going to remove the rolls and to transfer those apple slices to the meat pan to pick up all of the good meat juices. The apples will turn a beautiful golden color and as soon as that happens we can prepare our dishes!
Lay out the apples and sun-dried tomatoes and set the pork rolls on top. Spread a few olives and some pine nuts around and we are all ready to serve! Whether you decide to add more of the meat juices is a matter of taste- but this is a winning combination which ever way you decide to enjoy it! A chilled glass of Verdicchio or Trebiano would be a perfect accompaniment to the fruity and tangy falvors here... go ahead- give those taste buds the treat they deserve!