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Salt-Baked Pork in Adobo

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THREE CUPS of salt?  Kosher salt even like the good salt?  You’ve got to be kidding. This is the first thing I thought about this recipe.  The next thing I thought was “well, if it doesn’t work out we can order pizza.” Long story short, I think it may have been worth it although I need to work on the technique a little more.  The new cookbook I’m working out of titled “The New Spanish Table” by Anya von Bremzen has a lot of really awesome looking dishes in it.  The downside though is that the kitchen experience level is above “novice” for a lot of them.  So far, I have managed to find a few good ones that are not hard at all and stayed within the lines more or less of the Dukan Diet but this recipe pushed the envelope with technique.  Not impossible mind you, I have never ever before cooked with this method and to be honest, didn’t know anyone cooked anything by fixing it up all nice and then dumping a lot of salt on it and baking it. That went against every natural inclination I had in my kitchen.  Enshrining food in a salt crust for cooking makes the food cook evenly and slowly at fairly low temperature and if done correctly, will crack off easily leaving behind very little additional salt.  That’s the catch there though, doing it right so the salt comes back off. So my end result here was an extremely flavorful pork loin, perfectly cooked and moist that was a little too salty on the bottom for my taste.  Room to get better!  Anyway, the marinade/rub that goes on here is fantastic and I think that this dish was worth the risk and I will definitely be making it again.  Just not often….

Messy Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 TBS flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 TBS fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1 TBS smoked sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp hot paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 TBS high quality white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pork loin (2.5-3 pounds)
  • THREE CUPS KOSHER SALT!
  • 5 large egg whites, beaten

Put all the ingredients down through the olive oil into a food processor and get it down to a coarse paste.  Put the pork into a baking dish and rub the spice paste all over it evenly. Cover and refrigerate anywhere from 6 hours to overnight.  *Make sure you take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temp before cooking or the whole thing will be off.   When you’re ready to cook it, have the oven at 375°F.  Mix the salt and beaten egg whites together in a bowl until evenly moist, it should just barely hold together when you let it fall off a spoon.  Kinda clumpy. If it doesn’t, mix in a little water until it does. Pour the salt mixture over the pork and get it thoroughly coated, pushing up excess salt on top and around the sides in a little salt-pork-loaf in the pan and bake about 35-40 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 155°F.  Let the meat rest after taking it out of the oven for 5 minutes and then smack it with a spoon or butter knife.  The salt should crack and come away in pieces, you can (and should) wipe away any excess salt, especially from the bottom with a paper towel.  This recipe was presented with a Cilantro “mojo”, or sauce…kinda like a chutney.

Cilantro Mojo

  • 1.5 chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup high quality white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup high quality light olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

Put it all in a food processor and puree it.  Let it sit together in a bowl to “let the flavors develop”…make friends and all that…for 30 minutes before serving.

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