Recipe #3 – Roast Pork Loin with Mustard & Maple Garlic Seasoning and Individual Roasted Vegetable Cobblers

Roast Pork Loin & Veggie Cobblers[Photos by Mindy]

Over New Year’s weekend Mindy and I made a trip to the Spice House. I initiated the trip mainly because I was out of chili powder and wanted to buy one of their mixes instead of buying a generic one at Jewel. Of course, I came away with more than just chili powder – Mexican vanilla beans, Himalayan pink salt, and a maple garlic spice mix that Mindy had picked up. Upon taking a taste from the sample bag, I immediately said, “I want this on pork.” It was a great mix of sweet and savory that just screamed for a porcine application.

I’d marked a recipe for Fall Vegetable Cobbler in the inaugural issue of Food Network Magazine and remembered that the same page contained a recipe for a Roast Pork Loin. I’ve cooked pork chops many times with great success, always using Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything, but I’ve never tried a pork roast. It seemed like as good a time as any to try it, so I invited Mindy over to be my guinea pig for a dinner involving our newly found spice.

The results were…okay. Not a home run, but not horrible either. Here’s what I’d do to improve the roast: 1) I’d add simply add more seasoning. We ended up sprinkling some directly on top of our slices. 2) I’d put more salt and pepper on the roast. The seasoning included it, so I didn’t add any because I was afraid it would be too much. It wouldn’t have been. 3) I’d let the roast rest for an appropriate length of time. I probably only let it rest for about five minutes and when I sliced the roast it looked lovely and juicy and delicious. When we ate it, though, it was a little tough and dry. That was disappointing. Another five to ten minutes of resting might have remedied that.

The real star of the dinner, however, was the vegetable cobbler that I’d originally marked on the page. The vegetables and the sauce were so savory and good and the biscuit-like topping was so fluffy and buttery and delicious. It was so amazing, in fact, that at 10:30pm that night I didn’t want another one of the cupcakes I made for dessert (more on that in a later post), but more cobbler. That’s some serious veggie power.

I did make some alterations to the original recipe here. For one, I roasted the vegetables instead of just adding them raw into the sauce. I did this because I wanted to roast a whole slew of veggies and use them in a soup recipe I’d saved and I figured roasting them couldn’t hurt in this case either. (More on that in a later post as well.) This extra step takes a little more time, but I think it might be worth it since you don’t have to worry about the crust burning while waiting for the veggies to cook all the way through. I also decided to make these in small ramekins instead of one large dish because, well, I don’t own a large serving dish. The individual cobblers ended up being so cute that I think I may always make it this way.

The original recipe calls for heavy cream in the topping, but I lightened it by using skim milk and didn’t miss the cream one bit. I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make this a truly vegetarian dish. Finally, while the recipe calls for turnips, potatoes, and carrots, I nixed the turnips and added onions, parsnips, and celery root. I had never tasted celery root before, but I figured why not? I was experimenting anyway, I might as well add another unknown into the mix. That strategy can often backfire, but in this case it worked out fantastically. For anyone who likes the flavor celery lends to a dish, but hates the stringiness of the stalks, celery root is for you! Or, for me, at least.

A couple more notes: I made approximately half of each original recipe. For two people, it was plenty. On the beverage front, Mindy was tasked with finding a wine that would go with the ingredients in the dish. The wine she really wanted to get wasn’t available, but the white Spanish verdejo she found ended up being a surprisingly great compliment to the cobbler. I don’t know much about wine, but I could distinctly taste grapefruit in the glass and the wine’s fruity acidity cut nicely through the richness of the crust. Best of all, the wine was supremely affordable, costing less than $15. I would definitely search it out for myself.

The recipes for each dish are below. The ingredients on the Gateway to the North Maple Garlic Seasoning list maple sugar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and green onion flakes. If you don’t have access to it, you could probably just approximate a rub from the last six ingredients and add some maple syrup in the mustard and vinegar mix. For the cobblers, use whatever root vegetables you like or can find. It’s a recipe begging to be played with.

Roast Pork Loin with Maple Garlic Seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless center-cut pork loin roast, ¾ pound, trimmed and tied (I didn’t tie mine)
1-2 tablespoons Gateway to the North Maple Garlic Seasoning
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the pork with the maple garlic seasoning, salt, and pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown. Combine the mustard and vinegar and brush over the pork. Transfer to a clean ovenproof skillet or baking sheet and roast the pork in the oven until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 145°, about 35 minutes.

(The original recipe asks you to sear the meat in an ovenproof skillet and transfer that to the oven, but I found the sugar was starting to burn and smoke and I was really concerned for my small kitchen, so I put it on a clean skillet before putting it in the oven. Also, if you’re at all interested in cooking meats, this is a good time to get yourself a probe thermometer. They really do eliminate the guesswork.)

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. (Don’t rush this step!) Remove strings, slice, and serve.

Makes 2-3 servings

Individual Roasted Vegetable Cobblers
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 celery root, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced
2 parsnips, sliced
1 small yellow onion, cut into eighths
4 tablespoons unsalted butter; 3 tablespoons cut into cubes and kept cold
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ cup fat-free milk
fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Mix the vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper and scatter on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven 40-50 minutes, until the vegetables are tender when pierced by a small knife.

Whisk the broth and 2 tablespoons flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard and roasted vegetables; simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer veggies and broth into four 6-8 ounce ramekins.

Whisk the remaining flour (this would be 7/8 cup, or ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons), the baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub in the cold cubed butter with your fingertips until the dough resembles coarse meal. Lightly stir in ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk with a fork. Place big spoonfuls of dough (I put three on each ramekin using a small cookie scoop) on top of the vegetables and brush with the remaining milk. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet in case the broth boils over. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Scatter parsley on top (oops…I forgot this step).

Makes 4 servings.

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