The 2014 Holiday Dinner: Pork Loin Roast with Sicilian Cauliflower
This time of year, holiday parties ferry us out of our apartments and away from our kitchens–at the moment when we need home-cooked food the most, to balance out the frosted cookies and chocolate gelt. It can be wildly fun to be out at restaurants and bars, sipping themed cocktails and standing by the kitchen door in order to capture the first edition of each hors d’oeuvres. But, as a cook, I sometimes wish that some of the festive food came from our pots.
We do turn on the oven, of course, to bake (and there are lots of cookie, candy, and cake coming your way really soon). So far this December, I have been trying to come home to the kitchen when I can, to make chicken stock weekly, to eat some greens, and to pack carrots sticks with lunch. We’ll see how long into cookie season that lasts.
Those aren’t the only two options. Another thing entirely is to host some version of a holiday celebration yourself. This isn’t necessarily competition with the office party or the, er, FriendsMas/Friendsmakkuh fest, but a quieter affair, maybe with a few family members or friends from the neighborhood who can help you put ornaments on your tree. Serve them a garlicky roasted pork loin and a side of seasoned cauliflower that picks up the roast’s simple Italian vibe–and then end things with a contrastingly creamy maple creme brulee, potentially.
Or, keep this for yourself and save remaining portions as leftovers. The double roast–pork and vegetable–is a simple weeknight dinner at heart, even though it has the soul of a holiday meal.
Pork Loin Roast with Sicilian Cauliflower
The pork recipe I borrowed this from calls for an overnight marination. If you have forethought or prefer to make a mess in advance, you should smother the pork in the garlic-herb mash the night before, then leave the roast at room temperature before cooking. You could make the cauliflower dressing at the same time. That’d mean all the work to be done on the day of is to roast pork and cauliflower. But if that doesn’t make sense with your schedule, just follow the recipe as written.
For the pork (adapted from Food52)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
a lot of black pepper
Pinch dried or fresh rosemary
Pinch dried or fresh thyme
One 1 1/2 pound pork loin roast
For the cauliflower
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 anchovy, finely minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the cauliflower
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon lemon
1 teaspoon capers
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
First, marinate the pork. Combine the garlic, oil, salt, red pepper, black pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a food processor and pulse to combine. Rub this onto the pork roast, set it on a parchment-lined baking pan, and leave at room temperature for 45 minutes.
At the same time, make the dressing for the cauliflower: in a large bowl, combine the chives, parsley, lemon zest, anchovy, olive oil, raisins and capers. Sprinkle with a little salt. Let this marinate while you cook the cauliflower and pork.
Place the cauliflower florets on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and mix to distribute.
When the pork has been at room temp for a while, preheat the oven to 425° F. Roast the pork loin, fat side-up, for 25 minutes. Roast the cauliflower at the same time. When the cauliflower is finished, toss with the dressing and set aside while the pork finishes.
After 25 minutes, remove the cauliflower and toss it into the bowl with the chive-anchovy-lemon dressing. Lower the heat to 300°F and allow the pork to continue to cook until the center reaches 140°F, 20 to 30 minutes. If you have a thermometer, check often to be sure you don’t overcook. Let the pork rest for a few minutes, then slice it and serve with its juices, next to the cauliflower.