Sunday, 18 November 2007

roast pork w apples & prunes

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the USA, but since we don’t get a public holiday in Australia I thought I’d cook my father his Thanksgiving lunch today instead.

I put on a bit of a feast:
Pickled Nectarines w Ricotta & Prosciutto
Honey, Brie & Fig on Fruit Toast
Parmesan Mousse w Red Wine Pears
Roast Pork Loin w Prunes & Apples
Garlic & Lemon Broccoli
Green Beans w Truffle Butter
Baked Carrots w Cinnamon & Pine Nuts
Pumpkin Pie w Candied Pecans

It was the first time I’d made most of these dishes, and I was particularly nervous about the Pumpkin Pie, but everything turned out well and my stepmother even ate a carrot, something she loathes doing.

I tried to choose dishes that symbolised Thanksgiving traditions and flavours, while recognising that it’s summer in Sydney and the weather is 31’C (90’F). I opted for autumn flavours but served most of the dishes chilled or at room temperature.

After composing the menu I noticed that all the savoury foods contained fruit and the dessert was made from vegetable!

I will slowly post all the dishes we ate, but today I’m blogging about the main course: Roast Pork w Apples & Prunes.

This is one of my favourite roast recipes. I first tried it in New York when I was living with Paola. She hosted a special dinner for some senior colleagues and made this scrumptious roast.

The pork is sweet and fatty so the acidity of the green apples cuts across this slightly while the prunes matches with sweetness. The fruits break down a little and provide a nice chucky sauce for the meat. Yum!

Roast Pork w Apples & Prunes
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4-5.
1kg pork loin roast, without crackling
3 garlic cloves
3 green apples
250g pitted prunes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Peel apples, core and chop into cubes.
3. Crush all three garlic cloves and mix with apples and prunes.
4. Cut one garlic clove in half and rub over surface of roast.
5. Oil a baking dish, add pork and coat surface in oil. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
6. Add apples and prunes to baking dish. Return to oven for another 30 minutes.
7. Check pork is cooked through by inserting a skewer: if juices run clear pork is done.
8. Check apples and prunes have softened.
9. Cover with foil and sit for 10 minutes after cooking.
10. Serve slices of roast pork with apples, prunes and juices.
Notes: Always cook pork for 45 minutes per kilogram. Check roast every 30 minutes to baste with juices. Fruit will take approximately 30 minutes to soften.
Variations: Omit apples and prunes for fig version instead. Mix 250g fig jam with ¾ cup orange juice and ¼ boiling water to make runny sauce. Combine 250g chopped dried figs with jam sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, mix well. Sit 15 minutes before adding to roast. You could also substitute with apricot or cherry.

Maybe I’m a little slow on the up-take, but it wasn’t until I was 19 and living in Italy that I realised prunes were dried plums. How did I figure it out? Well in Italy, the word for plum is “prugna” so it suddenly dawned on me!

Prune producers usually use Prunus domestica, but more than 1000 cultivars of plums are grown for drying. They are usually freestone cultivars, where the stone can easily be dislodged, rather than cling styles.

Prunes have high levels of unique phytonutrients classified as phenols. These antioxidants neutralise a very dangerous oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical prevent oxygen damage to fats. As WHFoods put it “Since our cell membranes, brain cells and molecules such as cholesterol are largely composed of fats, preventing free radical damage to fats is no small benefit.”

In a quarter-cup of prunes, a person can get 16.9% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 9% of potassium and 12.1% fibre.

The fibre balances blood sugar levels and helps to prevent Type 2 Diabetes as well as treat constipation, lower cholesterol and increase iron absorption.

When selecting prunes choose ones that are shiny, soft, sticky and plump. Check carefully for mould, dryness or hardness.

Everyone’s favourite Klingon, Worf, declared that prune juice was a “warrior's drink!" and if Worf likes it, then prunes are OK by me.

Our WHB hostess this week is Vanessa from the brilliantly titled blog What Geeks Eat. I was only recently discussing how geeky all us food bloggers are as we snap away at dinner parties and restaurants. We really are a nerdy bunch, in the best possible way!

And in the lead up to Thanksgiving, don't forget about the Festive Food Fair, where you can blog about your special occasion food. Entries due by Sunday 9 December.




  1. That's a tasty hunk O' ham you have there Anna.

    Also, lobby your gov't for an Aussie Thanksgiving...I would have thought you'd at least celebrate like us Canadians do in the Brit tradition that celebrates the harvest.

  2. Sounds just delicious. I'm a fan of prunes, which are considered not that exciting here. I think they taste great. Sorry to hear you don't have a holiday for Thanksgiving there, it might be my favorite holiday.

  3. i think thanksgiving is seen as a very north american tradition.

    and your harvest time is at different times of the years than ours, being in different hemispheres.

    we have some other holidays though, like ANZAC day, which are very aussie/kiwi.

  4. This lookds great - we have a pork roast cooking right now. It is roasting with apples and onions and will be finished with a cider cream sauce.

    I can't wait to give this one a try.

  5. Is it okay to have pork so pink? I've always been told to cook pork until the pink is gone - is this no longer considered necessary?

  6. Sure wish I was at that lunch -- I would have been most thankful. The pork is lovely and perfectly cooked, and looks like the perfect complement for food. I'll be back for that pickled nectarines recipe -- it's making my mouth water just thinking about it.

  7. Your pork looks perfect! Nicely pink! I'm a big fan of prunes (and green apples) I usually have a basket sitting on the counter for nibbles.
    Can't wait to see the rest of the recipes - must have been a lovely lunch!

  8. thanks everyone for all the compliments!

    nerida - i think it's a bit of a myth that you can't have any pinkness in your pork. i suppose it's left over from a time when farming practices weren't very good and pigs could carry diseases that effected humans. recently in australia pork farmers have been marketing strongly on TV to show that pork can certainly be served pinkish.

  9. Your roast looks and sounds delicious! What a fantastic spread you put together! :) I'm hoping to see some photos of the Pickled Nectarines w Ricotta & Prosciutto and Honey, Brie & Fig on Fruit Toast soon...both sound divine!

  10. This sounds really delicious! I love fruit/pork combinations :).

  11. It is looking fab! I like pork - we have it almost as much as we have chicken, which is a lot. It should keep me busy in the kitchen.


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