When trying to figure out our September apple menu for Supper with Strangers, I naturally turned to pork because pork and apples make a good combination. A more recent New York Times recipe featured duck and figs that looked very autumnal and just made me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Duck breast was out of our Supper budget, so I found some nice pork loin and stole the idea of figs from the recipe.
The apple peel brine came from watching the Dr. marinate pork chops when we closed the summer season in Montauk a couple of weekends ago. The sweetness of the brine penetrated the pork meat and made it juicy; cooked just right and the meat is succulent and moist. The baked apples and figs were a nice side to make the meal complete. A Coast of Spain blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Tempranillo was the perfect match.
1 pork loin, tied in butcher twine
1 apple, sliced thin
1 apple, peel and meat peeled using a peeler
1 small tub of figs, sliced in half
3 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1. Two days before cooking, make the brine. In a small saucepan, boil apple peels and meat with sugar, juniper berries, all spice, black peppercorns, bay leaves in 4 cups of water. Season with salt. Simmer until water is reduced to about half. Remove pot from heat and let completely cool before adding to pork loin.
2. In a glass baking dish, marinade the pork loin in the brine. Just use enough brine to submerge the pork almost halfway. Turn pork loin over after a day.
3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300º. While preheating oven, remove pork from the brine. Heat a large skillet with some oil and brown the pork loin on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil and roast for about 25 minutes or until the pork feels like the meat below your thumb.
4. In the meantime, combine figs and apples in a separate baking dish and drizzle some oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside. Save the juice.
5. Remove pork loin from oven to a chopping block and let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing into 2-inch thick rounds. Serve with baked apples and figs and drizzle the fruit juice over them.