When my parents go on holiday to Continental Europe by car they always manage to bring me back the perfect gifts – namely food and drink. If they’ve been through Spain and Portugal it will be a selection of cured meats – mostly regional variations of chorizo – which never fail to make me happy. If it’s France then sometimes it will be meat, sometimes cheese and sometimes some of the local booze. This is how I came to have a bottle of 5 Year Old Calvados in the back of the cupboard. It’s really good quality but I’m not really a fan of drinking it neat, so I tend to either use it in cooking or as part of a longer drink. Now that summer is coming I suspect it may appear more often over ice than over Pork Loin steaks, as seen here…
The pairing of apple and pork is one you see coming up time and again in many recipes – because it works. I’m generally not a fan of putting fruit and meat together (and will never have apple sauce with roast pork), but there are ways of getting some of the flavour without needing to be so blunt in the approach. In this recipe I’ve started with really good quality, thick pork loin steaks that are pan-fried briefly before being roasted in the oven. This keeps the meat tender and avoids the risk of a chewy, white slab of meat ending up on your plate.
Then, whilst the pork is in the oven, I’ve used the same pan to soften some onions with a little garlic and thyme added in at the end. When tender and caramelised the heat is turned up and a generous splash of calvados added to the pan. Stand back at this stage if you want to keep your eyebrows…
Once the calvados had reduced to a thick, rich syrup I added in a little splash of vermouth (but wine would work just as well) along with some stock, honey, mustard and mushrooms. This was allowed to cook down to a beautiful sauce – I added the cooked pork steaks back to the pan and turned them over a few times to pick up the flavours before serving with creamy mash and green beans.
Next time I’d be tempted to cook this for more than just Michael and me – it almost felt a little too special for a schoolnight meal… But then a little treat now and then goes a long way to making you happy.
Pork Loin with Honey, Mustard and Calvados Sauce
I love honey and mustard as a flavour combination, but they can sometimes become a bit too sweet if you're not careful. There's no risk of that here as they're combined with a boozy kick from both calvados and vermouth to keep things nice and grown up!
- 2 tsbp Olive Oil
- 2 Pork Loin Steaks around 200g each
- 1 pinch Sea Salt
- 1 pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- ½ medium Onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 clove Garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves chopped
- 50 ml Calvados
- 50 ml Vermouth or Dry White Wine
- 200 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- 3 tbsp Runny Honey
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 100 g Chestnut Mushrooms finely sliced
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Brush the Pork loin steaks with half of the olive oil then season with the salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the pork for 1-2 minutes on each side. Put the steaks onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in the same frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes until softened and browned on the edges.
Add in the the garlic and thyme, then fry for a further 1-2 minutes until fragrant - don't let the garlic burn. Turn up the heat to high, then quickly pour in the calvados and ignite the vapours to flambé the contents of the pan.
Pour in the vermouth and stock, followed by the honey and mustard. Stir well until everything is mixed, then add in the mushrooms. Partially cover, bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for 10 minutes or so, until reduced by half and thickened.
When cooked remove the pork chops from the oven and add to the sauce - removing it from the heat at the same time. Turn the pork in the sauce a couple of times until well coated then allow to rest for a couple of minutes.
When rested serve the pork with mashed potatoes and green beans.