I did everything in my power to screw up this braised pork loin. Not on purpose, of course. But seriously, what was I thinking taking a work call during homework hour, a time when Abby absolutely must know immediately if 348 + 218 is indeed 9,843? And then, since it was approaching 5:00 and I wanted this pork to simmer down for at least 2 hours, I went ahead and started audibly sizzling the 2-pound slab of meat without telling the nice young man on the other end of the line, who was pre-interviewing me for this CBC report, that maybe I should call him back in 5 minutes? When Phoebe started asking me if she could fry a pineapple in cinnamon (???) as though the telephone on my ear was merely a decoration and not something that I was talking into, I headed upstairs and locked myself in my bedroom to continue the conversation in peace. Only to come down 15 minutes later to a piece of meat that was blackened on one side and completely raw on the other. And though I didn’t even remember adding onions, there they were, burnt beyond recognition. I browned the other side briefly, then reached for some wine for my braising liquid. Only a few drops were left, so instead I reached for the jar of pomegranate juice that just so happened to be sitting on the counter alongside an angry Abby, who was still seeking math approval. I poured in the juice, shut the lid, then hoped for the best.
It was the best!!!! Including Phoebe’s fried pineapple, a classic accompaniment to any pork, but particularly so when that pork is as tender and flavorful as this one turned out. Even the burntness of the skin and those black onions somehow gave the dish a little extra dimension. (She says convincingly.) The lesson? Besides the fact that the sitcom-y harried mom cliche is a cliche for a reason? You cannot screw up when you are braising. In fact, when a dish so disastrous in the making turns out this delicious, it actively encourages negligence. Please, go screw this one up tonight.
Pomegranate Pork Loin with Cabbage (The Proper Way)
In a large Dutch Oven set over medium-high heat, add a few glugs of olive oil. Brown a 2-3 pound pork loin on all sides so you get a nice golden crust — about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Add one large onion (chopped), one clove garlic (minced), salt, pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add pork back to pot, then add a dash or two of soy sauce, and any combination of red wine, pomegranate juice, and water (I did about a third/third/third) to allow liquid to come a third of the way up the loin. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, flipping once half way through and adding a little more liquid as you go if the level has reduced too much. The longer it simmers the better. About 10-12 minutes before you serve, add a handful or two of shredded cabbage to the pot. Remove pork and slice. Bring the braising liquid to a boil, until it is slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Serve pork with braising liquid and cabbage spooned on top, and also with roast potatoes and Phoebe’s cinnamon pineapple spears.
Note: Andy would like to add that if he were to braise a pork loin, he’d do the simmering down in a 350°F oven for up to 3 hours instead of on the stovetop. (With the pot still covered.)
Phoebe’s Cinnamon Pineapple Spears
Melt a pat of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add pineapple spears (or just pineapple chunks), sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, and fry until slightly brown and golden.