Sweet pork gets an instant upgrade when combined with cranberries and crunchy pecans. Prepare this dish for guests and sit back as the compliments roll in.
1 1/2 quarts of cranberry juice
12 ounces of cranberry vodka (optional)
1/2 cup of salt
1 center cut rack of pork, Frenched, with fat and silver skin removed
3 tablespoons of clarified butter
4 ounces of dried cranberries
8 ounces of toasted pecans
8 ounces of plain bread crumbs
2 ounces of picked thyme
3 ounces of clarified butter
Wilted Spinach, recipe follows
Apple Tart, recipe follows
Cranberry Sauce, recipe follows
1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon of butter, plus 4 ounces (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup of Riesling wine
2 cups of cranberry juice
1 thyme of sprig
Savory Apple Tart:
2 Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons of butter, plus extra for brushing
1 cup of heavy cream
1 large baking potato, like russets
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
1 thyme sprig
Combine brining solution ingredients together and cover pork with cranberry liquid overnight.
Puree dried cranberries in a blender with a little bit of water until smooth.
Toast pecans. Place in food processor and pulse until they are slightly ground. Add in bread crumbs and the picked thyme, then pulse again. Add 3 ounces clarified butter until mixture sticks together to adhere on the pork.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
After pork has been brined, remove from liquid and pat dry. Discard brining liquid. Heat a large saute pan until hot, then add 3 tablespoons of clarified butter and sear the rack on both sides. Place pork on a meat rack. Spread cranberry paste on pork and then top with pecan bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 130 degrees. Remove foil about 10 to 15 minutes before pork is done, to brown the pecan crust. Allow pork to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
When ready to serve, slice pork into 8 slices and plate each piece. Arrange each plate with Wilted Spinach and Apple Tart. Finish each plate with some cranberry pork sauce.
To prepare Cranberry Sauce:
Saute cranberries in 1 tablespoon of butter until they begin to split, then srinkle with sugar and salt, deglaze with wine and reduce until almost dry. Add in cranberry juice and thyme sprig; reduce by 1/2. Strain sauce through a fine sieve, whisk in remaining cold butter and check for proper seasoning.
Savory Apple Tart:
Peel, core and dice 1 apple, then saute in butter and season with salt and sugar. Add cream and reduce by 3/4. Puree until it is very smooth.
Slice the potato into thin slices with mandoline. Cook in boiling water until it is almost tender. Set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry a bit and score it with a sharp knife. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles of puff pastry. Place them between 2 sheets of waxed paper on baking sheet, weigh down with another baking sheet and blind bake in oven until almost cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread a heaping teaspoon of the apple cream on top of the puff pastry. Peel and slice other apple, then fan apple and potato slices around puff pastry, making a pinwheel design. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes. Brush using a little more butter and sprinkle with some more sugar and broil for 1 minute until the tarts are caramelized.
Wilted Spinach: 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 6 cloves of blanched garlic, sliced 3 pounds, loose leaf spinach, washed Salt
Heat 2 large saute pans until hot. Add the olive oil and garlic. Now add the spinach, season with salt and cook until just wilted. Serve immediately.