This Braised Pork Loin is an excellent way to learn how to braise meat, or anything for that matter. Braising provides a consistent and familiar cooking process that works every time, so you'll be able to focus more on flavor knowing you already have the cooking process down to a science. To braise means to first sear then simmer in liquid.
The first step of braising, the sear, has two main purposes. 1- to brown the exterior of the meat or vegetable in order to make it crispy, and 2- to develop a fond on the bottom of the pan. Fond is the layer of browned caramelized bits that forms on the bottom of the pan as you sear the meat. The fond is later deglazed using a simmering liquid, bringing deep flavor to the entire dish.
The second step, the simmer, allows you to cook the meat gently through the center. Long braises of large, tough meats can take several hours and lead to fall-off-the-bone tenderness. Quick braises of smaller cuts, such as this pork loin, can cook to a desired temperature. (Medium, well done, etc.)
In this recipe for Sauvignon Blanc Brased Pork Loin, the loin is first seared in olive oil, then simmered in white wine and a couple other ingredients. It should cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 135-140F. It's best to have an instant read thermometer to know when it's finished cooking.
One of the best things abut braising is that the entire dish often cooks in one pan. This is great for a couple reasons:
Remember that fond I mentioned earlier? Deglazing fond off the bottom of a pan helps bring all that brunt goodness into the rest of the dish, giving it a deeper, richer flavor. SThe searing and deglazing steps bring
If you see a recipe for a "one pot meal", the chances are, the main cooking technique will be braising. Just sear. Deglaze. Simmer.
- 1 pork loin weighing approximately 1.25 lb. Weight doesn't matter all that much, you'll just adjust cooking time as needed for smaller or larger cuts.
- 4 medium Portobello mushroom caps, sliced. The large ones are OK, but could potentially be too big and meaty, overpowering the pork.
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 large handfuls of torn spinach. You can substitute other greens such as arugula, kale, or collard greens if you'd like.
- 2TB Olive oil for searing
- 2TB Dijon mustard
- 1TB Capers in brine
- ½c dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
- 1c water
- 2 Tsp Worcestireshire sauce
- 1 Tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 15 oz can of beans, such as kidney beans or cannelini beans, drained and rinsed.
- A handful of chopped parsely or basil
1. Mise en place. Season pork heavily with salt and pepper and set aside. Slice onions, mushrooms, and garlic, place them in a bowl, and set these aside as well. Make your cooking liquid by whisking together dijon, capers, worcestireshire, and wine.
2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan, large cast iron pan, or dutch oven over medium high heat. Allow it to get very hot. Use a paper towel to pat the pork dry right before placing it in the pan. The salt likely pulled a lot of moisture out of the pork, so it'll be wet, and moisture is the enemy of a good sear. Sear the pork until it is well-browned on all sides. This will take a few minutes per side. Don't rush it. You may want to open a window for this part so your smoke alarms don't sound. Once fully seared, remove pork from pan, lower heat to medium, and add your sliced vegetables to the same pan.
3. Sauté vegetables for 2 minutes, allowing them to brown slightly, then season with a large pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Again, the salt will draw moisture out of your mushorooms specifically, so you'll notice this moisture starting to lift the fond off the bottom of the pan soon after you season the vegetables. Saute until onions are soft, then add half of the spinach and sauté for 2 more minutes. If you're using tougher greens, such as kale or collard greens, put both handfuls in now, rather than saving some for the end. Add cooking liquid and 1c of water.
4. Bring mixture to a simmer, then nestle pork loin and its juices back into the pan. Cover, slightly vented, and simmer on low for approximately 15 mintues, until internal temperature reaches 135F. Clean your cutting board while you'r pork cooks. Flip the pork half way through, 6-7 minutes into simmering, so it cooks evenly. You really should purchase an instant read thermometer to take its temperature at the 7 miunute mark and at the end. There's no guessing involved if you have a thermometer. The one linked here is on the expensive side, but it truly is instant, and as of today, January 5th, it is on sale for 15% off. If you don't want to spend the money on this one, buy a less expeonsive one. But please, BUY ONE. It will serve you well.
5. Remove pork when it reaches your desired temperature, place it on a clean cutting board, and tent it with foil. While pork rests, put finishing touches on our vegetables and sauce: Add the beans, the other handful of spinach, and fresh herbs, cook until beans are heated through, and sauce has reduced just until it coats the back of a spoon. Taste to determine need for more seasoning.
6. Slice pork on the bias. Fill bowls with your delicious saucy vegetables. Top with a few slices of pork and more sauce.
Some other delicious braises are shown below. They all require the same overall method– sear, then simmer– but with different flavors.