We have been enjoying some wonderful pears lately. I actually made this a couple of months ago when Red Anjou pears were first coming into their season, but I was reminded of it when enjoying a sweet and juicy Bartlett pear this week.
I usually prefer to eat my fruit fresh rather than cook it (though I will throw down with an irresistible pie every now and then). I always forget about the different dynamic that fruit can give a savory dish. After all, who doesn’t love the classic combination of applesauce with pork or the intensified, smoky flavor of a grilled peach?
It was hard for me to narrow down the true star of this meal, because everything went so wonderfully together. I thoroughly enjoyed each element on its own, but when I tried a little bit of pear, leek, and pork in the same mouthful, I was reminded of the perfect harmony that you get with that Thanksgiving bite of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. The pears and leeks were seared and nicely caramelized, the pork was stuffed with a delectable mixture of garlic and herbs, AND don’t forget the pan sauce! I love a good pan sauce on almost anything, and this one was no exception. Add some wine and heavy cream to it, and I’m a goner.
I would say this meal definitely has potential for your next dinner party. It has the “wow” factor, it doesn’t require a lot of attention because it finishes cooking in the oven, and it can easily serve a crowd.
*Be sure to adjust the cooking time for the size of your pork roast. My 2 pound roast took about 25 minutes to finish in the oven. The originally recipe called for a 3 1/2 pound roast, which requires 40 minutes in the oven.
3/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed roughly chopped fresh sage, plus whole sage leaves for roasting
3 whole garlic cloves
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 pounds, halved horizontally
2 ripe red Anjou pears, halved lengthwise
4 leeks, white portions only, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thoroughly rinsed
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.
In a food processor, process the parsley, chopped sage, whole garlic, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until a fine paste forms. Spread the mixture on the cut side of one half of the pork loin, then place the other half on top. Tie the roast together with kitchen twine and tuck whole sage leaves underneath the twine. Season the roast with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the pears, cut side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the pork to the pot and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Place the leeks, cut side down, in the pot in a single layer. Set the pork on top and place the pears along the sides of the pot.
Cover the pot and roast in oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 140°F, 20-30 minutes. Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Transfer the leeks and pears to a platter.
Pour the pan drippings into a bowl and discard all but 2 teaspoons of the fat. Warm the reserved fat in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the broth and pan drippings and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the mustard and cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut the pork into slices and arrange on the platter and serve with pears, leeks, and sauce.