Pork with prunes is such an international dish, I felt a bit uneasy writing about it (UPDATE: it SEEMED to me very international, but luckily I was wrong); the only reason I do is the presence of marjoram, which for me changes everything here. When I realised none of my foreign friends or relatives seasons pork roast with marjoram, I decided I would share with you this wonderful combination of flavours.
Marjoram, a close cousin of oregano, seems to be much less known in most countries around the world. For me it’s the opposite, since I grew up with the scent of dried marjoram, one of the most important herbs in Polish cuisine. It is mainly used with powerful flavours and/or heavy meals such as pork dishes or rich soups because of its digestive qualities, but also its powerful aroma and a slightly bitter taste, perfect to enhance strong-flavoured meats. Therefore, for me, marjoram and pork are like rosemary and lamb: they seem to be made for each other and whenever I prepare a European-inspired pork dish, marjoram is the first seasoning that comes to my mind. As for the prune, apart from its pork-friendly flavours, it plays here an additional and very important role: it enables me to use the leanest loin without ending up with completely dried meat (and it also allows me to have it as often as I wish, without fearing for my waistline). In short, for me marjoram and prune are the key elements for a perfect pork roast.
TIPS: It is usually advised to roast pork for one hour per 1 kg of meat. For our everyday meals I usually buy a small piece of loin (about 600 g), brown it first in a pan to seal the juices and this browning process reduces the further time of roasting. Feel free to apply your own roasting method here.
This is a method to roast pork stuffed with prunes. If you don’t stuff it with prunes, use a fattier cut, otherwise, with this roasting method you will end up with dry meat.
You can skip the marinating process, but the seasoned meat tastes really better after several hours or a night in the fridge.
Preparation: about one hour+ marinating time (minimum eight hours)
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
600 g/about 21 oz pork loin (or any other pork cut you prefer; the fattier, the juicier it will be)
about ten big prunes, stoned, halved lengthwise
salt, pepper, dried marjoram, black pepper, dried chilli pepper powder (or sweet pepper in powder, if you don’t want a spicy roast), dried powdered garlic
First make 3-4 long cuts (tunnels) with a rather narrow knife inside of your roast (lengthwise).
Using your fingers stuff them with halves of the prunes (do this after each cut, so that you remember well where you did them).
Leave some space at the end of the tunnels: the prunes will swell during the baking process and they will fall out.
Rub the meat on all sides starting with salt, then rubbing with garlic and then with the remaining condiments.
Put the roast into the fridge (covered or wrapped) for several hours or overnight (or even more if you wish).
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before browning it.
Heat some oil in a pan and brown the roast on each side (about 1 minute per side).
Place the roast into a greased baking tin, pour some water at the bottom (several tablespoons).
(If, like me, you are mad for marjoram, you can now rub some more of it into the roast and sprinkle some onto the baking tin too, but skip this step if you have never cooked with marjoram; the result might be too strong for you.)
Bake for about 30 minutes, pouring (use a spoon), once or twice, some of the juices on top of the roast (make a test after 20 minutes: if you insert a skewer the juices should be clear, without any reddish traces).
Take out of the oven and make it rest for about ten minutes before serving.
I like it served with a potato salad or simply with bread and a green salad, but it’s also fantastic cold in a sandwich.