I had intended to make something from the American Woman’s Cook Book today as promised, a project just waiting for a mellow weekend like this. Alas, I didn’t get around to the chicken pot pie or beef brisket or chess pie just yet. In part I was too busy studying Japanese, getting ready for my new class on Tuesday. Watashi wa Nihon-go benkyoshimashita.

I was in the mood for a roast loin of pork and braised red cabbage, it seemed just the thing to eat on a lazy(ish) Sunday with a chill in the air. If I check I’d probably find such a recipe in my grandma’s old cookbook but I was dashing off to the co-op and in the mood for a little improvising. I remembered last year, around this time, eating such a dish at Dressler, in Williamsburg, and feeling so satisfied. The combination of tender pork with a crispy crust, grainy brown mustard, and acidic-sweet cabbage all in one bite, eaten at Dressler’s lovely, long bar  (one of the best spots to eat at in the city, with or without a dining companion), seemed too good to replicate.

I was lucky to snatch up the last Aberdeen Hill Farm pork tenderloin at the co-op (not a minute later I heard someone page, “Is there anymore pork tenderloin? Pork tenderloin, any more please?”). My plan B, if they didn’t have any, was to try Marlow & Daughters but that would’ve run me a pretty penny. Although, for good quality pork loin, it’s money well spent. I also picked up some Tom Cat Bakery cheddar brioche rolls and served them on small individual plates, just like they do at Dressler, with perfectly softened butter. The loin came out juicy with a crispy exterior, just the way I like it.

Roasted Pork Loin with Braised Red Cabbage

For the Pork:
1 2-lb boneless pork loin
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp fennel seeds
salt and pepper
5-6 branches of sage

For the cabbage:
2-3 tbsp butter
optional: 1 sausage (plain, fennel, or even chorizo is fine), chopped
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 lb red cabbage, sliced
2 tart apples, like Granny Smith, peeled and sliced thin
1 c chicken stock
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c orange juice or apple cider
5 or 6 juniper berries
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper

The day before cooking, if possible, you want to season the meat. First trim off all excess fat from the loin. Slice little gashes into the meat and stick the slivers of garlic inside. Crush the fennel seeds with the side of your knife, or with a mortar and pestle, and rub all over the loin. Cover the meat with a very generous coating of salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Gently push the sage leaves into the meat and tie up with twine, spaced a couple inches apart. Refrigerate overnight. If it’s the day of, that’s fine too, proceed anyway with these steps.

Bring the pork loin to room temperature (about one hour) before cooking. Preheat your oven to 425F. Place the pork loin on a rack over a baking dish, place in the center of the oven, and cook, uncovered until a thermometer reads 130F at the thickest part of the loin. This will take about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

While the loin is roasting, prepare your braised cabbage. Melt the butter in a dutch oven or stock pot, then add the onions, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the sausage, cooking on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and apples to the pot, stir, and let cook down for 8-10 minutes. Then add the chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, and juice/cider. Turn the heat to high.

Place the juniper berries, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick in some cheesecloth, and tie up. Toss into the cabbage pot, along with salt and pepper, to taste. Once the liquid is boiling turning the heat down to low, cover, and let cook for 20-25 more minutes.

Slice the loin against the grain and serve with dollops of the brown mustard and of course, the braised cabbage.

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