Enjoy the last thrust of spring’s cherries in this sublime and easy to prepare relish that accentuates pork loin’s tenderness and bacon’s salt-crisped smoky smack. Unleash the savory side of dessert’s favorite fruit by pairing the cherries with caramelized oyster mushrooms, balsamic vinegar’s sweet acidity, minced shallot’s bite, and the fresh fat cutting quality of mint.
The loin’s moisture and tenderness is retained throughout the cooking process by brining it in a cold bath of citrus and hot pepper and wrapping it in peppered bacon. Fix the bacon tight against the pork with butcher’s twine and as it cooks, the bacon’s fat will melt into the loin and baste it in a smoky richness. For a complete tribute to late spring, serve Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin with Cherry-Mint Relish with lemon-kissed asparagus and smashed new potatoes laced with olive oil and green garlic.
Cherry-Mushroom Mint Relish
1 cup Bing cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
¼ pound oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste
1. Wash the cherries.
2. Slit each cherry and pop out the pit. If you have a pitter, use that to remove each cherry’s pit.
3. Slice the cherries into slivers and place them in a large stainless steel bowl.
4. Mince the shallot and place it with the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt in a stainless steel bowl.
5. Let the minced shallot macerate in the vinegar for about 25 minutes.
6. As the shallot macerates, cook the oyster mushrooms.
a. Heat a frying pan on high heat.
b. Once the pan is hot, put a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.
c. Immediately put the mushrooms in the pan and cook them on high until they are wilted and caramelized.
d. Once they are cooked, remove the mushrooms from the pan and add a splash of vinegar to deglaze the pan.
c. Let the mushrooms cool and then chop them up.
7. Whisk in the olive oil to the shallot-vinegar mixture and pour it over the sliced cherries.
8. Add the oyster mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and gently mix the ingredients together.
9. Wash, dry, and thinly slice the mint. Right before serving, mix the mint in the relish and serve.
Brine and Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin Preparation
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons salt
3 cups cold water
1 pound pasture-raised pork loin
For after the brining process:
6 slices of peppered bacon
1. Place all of the brine ingredients in a clear plastic bag.
2. Shake the bag so that the salt is dissolved and all of the ingredients are afloat.
3. Place the pork loin in the bag, push any excess air out of the bag, and seal the bag.
4. Place the bag in the refrigerator and let the brine sink into the meat for about 7-9 hours.
5. Pull the loin from the brine, place it on paper towels, and dab it to remove any excess moisture.
6. Pull out the bacon and lay it flat on a cutting board.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a large frying pan on the stove on medium-low heat.
8. Wrap each piece around the loin and cut off any excess bacon (you just want each piece to wrap around once).
9. Cut six pieces of butcher’s twine.
10. Wrap and tie each bacon slice to the loin with a piece of twine. Pull the twine tightly against the bacon and loin, but be careful not to rip the bacon.
11. Turn the heat on the frying pan on high.
12. Once the pan is hot, place a generous amount of oil in the pan, and lift the bacon-wrapped loin into the pan with tongs. Swirl the meat around in the oil to make sure that it doesn’t stick.
13. Turn the heat on the pan to medium-low, and cook each side of the loin to render out and crisp the bacon.
14. Once the bacon wrapped around the loin is crispy and golden brown, place the roasting pan in the oven and cook the loin for about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it.
15. After 8-10 minutes, pull the loin from the oven and place it on a plate. Loosely tent the loin in aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
16. After 10 minutes, remove the foil, remove each piece of twine, and thinly slice the loin.
17. Place the slices on a serving platter or on plates, and spoon the cherry-mint relish over the top.