I love fruit probably more than the next person, but I am guilty of shopping for bigger quantities than my small family can consume. At the same time, I hate wasting and I can't bear throwing out fruit that's not in its prime anymore. Bananas and apples are usually the fruit that I guilt-bake with, but the year-round availability of grapes in the US have been posing a problem for me. They wait in my fridge drawers without getting the attention they deserve, as in contrast to bananas they don't lend themselves well to baking. Hence this dish, which was a revelation in how grapes can shine in a cooking recipe. I've used both white and red seedless grapes and they both work well. And although I prefer using fresh herbs, I've cooked this with dry thyme, rosemary and sage and it was just as good!
Pork Loin with Honey and Grapes
- 1 3-pound boneless center-cut pork loin
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme, plus 6 whole sprigs
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, plus 3 whole sprigs
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped sage, plus 3 whole sprigs
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound baby potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 onions
- ½ cup port
- 6 tablespoons (or to taste - I usually put 1/2 cup) best quality Greek honey
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 pound seedless grapes
- In a dish or a zip-lock bag big enough to hold the pork, combine the chopped herbs, mustard, honey, half the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the pork and make sure it's well coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours - the longer, the better.
- Take the pork out of the fridge and bring to room temperature while you heat your oven to 325 degrees and saute the meat. I use a dutch-oven sauteuse that allows me to saute big hunks of meat and is big enough to fit the potatoes and grapes and stick into the oven, but you can saute the meat in any suitable pan. Retrieve the pork and reserve the marinade. Heat the rest of the oil, season your meat (some salt always seals in the juices at this stage) and sear it well, about 4 minutes a side.
- Remove the pork and place on a plate (or a roasting pan if you're not using one pan for both sauteing and roasting) while you saute the onions and the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the port and scrape the pan with a gentle spatula to make the most of the yummy bits stuck in the pan.
- Now, either return the pork in your ovenproof pan to join the potatoes and onions, or move the vegetables to the roasting pan where the pork is waiting. Add the marinade, as well as the herb sprigs, if using, and the stock. Give everything a stir so that the potatoes are nicely coated. If your pan has a lid use it, but if you're using a roasting pan cover it tightly with tin foil.
- Cook for an hour. Then add the grapes into the pan and stir so that everything is well mixed together. Cook for another 45', depending on your oven and how you like your pork cooked. I usually check at 30' and then let it roast uncovered for the last 15' if the sauce needs to thicken, or if the potatoes need more time. Don't let it dry up though and add stock at any time during cooking if the pan needs it. The combination of caramelized grapes and onions, meat juices, and herb aromas mixed with honey and mustard, make this recipe a definite crowd pleaser (and grape saver!)