A Spain vs Korea Recipes original, this dish is ready with very little prep and only a few steps: sear, rub, bake, sauce, serve.
California Napa Valley
THE RAMBLE: Winner for Team Spain!
LET’S TALK ABOUT California. “The Other Mediterranean,” as I call it, and plan to make their official slogan someday, is my home. I grew up there, and it will always fill me with energy and wanderlust. There are so many incredibly beautiful places and the people are just as beautiful. There is such a cultural mix of people that makes the attitude of California so open and low-key, whether you’re in a lower cost-of-living area like inland Southern Cali, or higher cost-of-living areas like Napa. I love Chef Roy Choi’s description of Los Angeles in Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, that LA is different from any other big city in the US because, “It’s not about restaurants in LA, the roots of the city are around a lot of immigrants, you know, Korean, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Hondurian, El Salvadorian, and on and on, and so the bones of the city are not European, and I think that’s a big thing to do with LA. There’s no European root here.” to which Anthony Bourdain responds, “That’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard!” I agree with both of them. It’s just a different culture that you can feel and that I love, and that permeates to the rest of California. Choi’s food truck Kogi perfectly represents the California experience, and especially LA, with it’s Korean-Mexican fusion menu. I love that. I think anyone growing up in Cali will feel those are the flavors of life in California. I know the stereotype is the Hollywood blonde-hair big-car snob, but I’ve never run into that, even though I’m sure it exists, but I feel everyone is just so real. I love it and love the people. It’s probably because they are living in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, so everyone just does their thing and wants you to do your thing such as well. Are we aggressive drivers? Yes, yes we are, and driving anywhere else makes us crazy. Are we super biased about our Asian and Mexican food? Yes, for some reason, it’s always the best in California, but other than that, it was the perfect place to grow up for me. Ok, I promise I’ll stop there, because I could go on and on about my amazing California!
LET’S TALK ABOUT Napa Valley. I use this term to represent the fresh, Mediterranean style of food that Cali usually has. Cali is an agricultural state, growing pretty much everything, so popular and renowned restaurants usually go with a ‘keep it simple and fresh’ philosophy with food. This pork loin recipe represents just that philosophy. My husband got his first job out of school, and I was staying at home with our first newborn, trying to keep a strict budget while simultaneously making good things to eat from scratch. I grew up vegan, so marrying someone whose body did not function well on a vegan diet was also challenge because I had to completely re-write my recipe repertoire. After watching a lot of Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, I learned how to properly cook a pork loin, and these flavors just kind of happened together with the basics I had in the pantry. But it’s DELICIOUS and this recipe is very versatile. Use any flavor jam, try other herbs for the OO rub, etc. I usually don’t go for pork products, there’s too much gross BBQ sauce, too sweet, it’s dry, etc., but here’s a good recipe with decently affordable pork loin that is done in just a few steps, with some easy roasted potatoes with tarragon that pairs so well with that berry sauce.
Going to Napa? Head over to three Michelin Starred izakaya style eatery Miminashi where a friend of mine works. It has an incredible menu and you can read a wonderful article about it and it’s name here.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great “Napa” style food: Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network for simple recipes @inagarten, and of course, Chef Thomas Keller of the iconic Napa restaurant, The French Laundry @chef_keller
Sage and Garlic Pork Loin with Barry Sauce and Tarragon Roasted Potatoes
Original recipe, Serves 4, Easy level recipe, about 1 hour to make
2 lb pork loin, preferably all “white” meat*, i.e. Smithfield brand
2 TBS Olive Oil
2 tsp salt, kosher grain (if using sea salt grain, use less, just enough to evenly season)
1 tsp pepper
The Sage rub:
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS dried sage or finely minced fresh sage
2-3 cloves garlic, grated with rasp, through a garlic press or finely minced
The Berry sauce:
1/2 heaping cup blackberry jam
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp balsamic or sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher grain salt
Tarragon Roasted Potatoes:
1 lb baby potatoes, red or gold, cleaned if needed
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 TBS kosher grain salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBS dried or fresh tarragon (or fresh dill if you prefer)
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place one rack on middle slot and one on second-to-bottom rack.
- SEAR MEAT: Place your skillet/frying pan on high heat, let preheat a minute or two. Meanwhile, pat down your pork loin with a paper towel, and evenly coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Once pan is evenly hot, place your loin in the pan, *dark meat first if it has it. Remember what side has the dark meat! After about 60 seconds and a dark golden browning, rotate to the next side of the pork loin with a pair of tongs. Continue to sear all four sides of the loin.
- MIX RUB: Meanwhile, mix together ingredient for the sage rub.
- Place your seared pork loin on a baking rack and coat the loin evenly with the olive oil sage rub (a spoon works). *If your loin has “dark” meat, place loin dark meat up. Place on the middle rack in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
- POTATOES: Meanwhile, slice your baby potatoes in half. Place in a baking sheet in a pile, add olive oil, salt, pepper and dried tarragon, if using. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated, and place potatoes face-down on baking sheet in one layer. Place potatoes on lower rack of oven and roast until tender to the prick of a knife/pork loin is done, about 25 minutes.
- SAUCE: Meanwhile, add all berry sauce ingredients to a small saucepan. Melt and stir over medium heat, about 2 minutes, set aside once combined.
- After about 30 minutes, remove pork loin, and using a meat thermometer, check it’s temperature. It should read between 138-140 degrees, if dark meat, temp the dark meat to 138-140 degrees. If under that, continue to cook for another few minutes or until pork hits 138-140 degrees.
- SERVE: Once 138-140 degrees, remove pork and tender potatoes, let rest 5 minutes under a foil tent. If using fresh tarragon or dill, add to potatoes and toss to evenly coat. Then, slice pork thinly to demand. Serve with your berry sauce and potatoes.