The past couple of years have seen my attitude change a lot about pork. Not that I ever hated it but the practice of overcooking it to a dry, tough piece of meat left me wanting more…not to mention that on top of that dry meat was a big chunk of fat. Really wonderful tasting fat I might add…but one I always lopped off and threw away. You know – that ‘I won’t eat the thing I love the most cause it’s bad for me’ piece of fat?
This dish was so good that I’m now soliciting strangers to come over for dinner to have an excuse to make it again. What’s changed?
Well, first of all overcooking pork is no longer necessary. It used to be the healthy thing to do but the pork industry has changed their guidelines, animals are healthier and leaner and the resulting meat we get from the butcher does not have to be ‘butchered’ by us to be edible. Cooking a piece of pork until it’s still very lightly pink inside is now acceptable practice and that has made all the difference to my palate.
Secondly since I’ve started to use pork more I realize just how versatile it is. Although I recently enjoyed the most amazing ribeye steak; I seem to prefer meats that lend themselves to a wide variety of spices and preparations and as a result chicken and flank steak have been my close friends for years. But I’m learning to give pork a chance and this recipe? Well, I already said it; I want it again, soon.
The original recipe is from Bobby Flays ‘Grill It’ cookbook and one that he has served at his restaurant, Bar Ameracain. While I’m sure it is fabulous, no one reading this will be surprised I bet that I HAD to add a bit of rum. Full disclosure time. I don’t want everyone to visualize me like my hero in ‘Drunk Kitchen’ though; I love the booze IN the food as much as I love a good cocktail in my glass. Well, except for wine but even then, no wino here, I promise.
The dish was served at the restaurant with a savory apple butter. I almost passed on it and TRUST me, so glad I did not. Pork or barbecue or even molasses not your thing? Don’t let that stop you from making the butter; it really is apple BUTTER, not apple butter made with apples! Of course it wouldn’t quite be me if I didn’t add some…come on, say it with me…RUM!
The apple butter is plain out of this world. It filled two half pint jars and I’m serving it this weekend with biscuits. When I first saw how much butter was required I almost held back but so glad I did not. I have a stash of Kerrygold Butter and it was most definitely a good choice to use it for this; actually I’m sure that their butter is one reason for the outstanding end result and it deserves to be call Kerrygold Apple Butter! Really, another little jar of heaven you can plan to get in your Christmas basket this year (you know who you are!).
The sage leaves were ‘just cause.’ I wanted to try something using sage from a plant in my garden that I typically don’t touch until Thanksgiving Day. They are a nice little garnish and I’m glad I tried them but they are not necessary to the overall dish being so exceptional. I think perfectly suitable to use no garnish or just some nice green parsley.