In the region in Italy where I come from we pride ourselves with a few selected foods that include some types of wine and cheese, chocolate and hazelnuts (hazelnut chocolate being the most delicious thing you can find). My mom likes to bring me a couple of packages of hazelnuts from our region everytime she visits, and it’s a gift I always accept very happily and save for special occasions.
I remember that my dad made me meat with hazelnut sauce once. My mom was away for a week, I was still too young to cook, so that week’s kitchen duties had been on my dad. And he made me this amazing roast with hazelnut sauce that I remember to this day. I’ve been teasing him to prepare it again for years, but this somehow never happened. When mom is around, the kitchen is hers. But I never forgot that delicious meat with hazelnut sauce and when I learned to cook I also learned to make myself meat with hazelnuts, like that roast my dad had made me once.
I’m having guests tonight so I decided to make this family recipe which I have reinterpreted to make it my own. My version features some stout beer!
Roasted pork loin with hazelnut sauce:
- 1 pork loin (about 800 g)
- 2 shallots
- 100 g hazelnuts
- dried rosemary
- 2 bay laurel leaves
- 100 ml stout beer
- 200 ml cream (15% fat)
Preheat the oven to 220°C. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts and set aside. Mince the shallots and set aside. Sprinkle a generous amount of fine salt all over the pork loin and massage the meat in order to spread the salt everywhere. Lay the loin in a casserole dish and pour the minced shallots all over it and on the sides. Add some rosemary (I sprinkled ground dried rosemary leaves) and scatter half of the hazelnuts over the meat.
Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes: the hot temperature will start to superficially cook the meat and onion pieces and will toast the hazelnuts. After 10 minutes, turn the pork loin to expose the other side, sprinkle the rest of the ground hazelnuts and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Take the food out of the oven and lower the temperature to 200°C. Pour the stout beer into the casserole – I used Guinness. Turn the pork loin around, so that the drier top part will now be dipped in the beer, cover the casserole with an aluminium sheet and return the dish into the oven. Bake covered for 40 minutes at 200°C.
After 40 minutes, take the dish out of the oven again, remove the aluminium sheet, turn the meat around and add half of the cream to the beer and hazelnut sauce. Return the meat to the oven and keep baking it, occasionally turning the meat around in order to avoid overly drying its top part. To test if the loin is cooked, insert and remove a toothpick in the meat: if some water comes out of the tiny toothpick hole, it still needs some time in the oven. Bake until no water bubbles out after the toothpick test. I cooked my pork loin about 2,5 hours.
When cooked, scrape all the hazelnuts that are covering the pork loin down in the rest of the sauce, take it out and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cut it into 1-cm wide even slices. Transfer the hazelnut sauce into a tall container, remove bay leaves and blend it. Mix in the rest of the cream at this point, to thin out the sauce and adjust its taste (the meat juces and salt that had been smeared onto the pork loin will have flavoured the sauce quite strongly, so more cream will make it a little lighter in taste). Lay meat slices in the casserole pan and pour the blended hazelnut sauce on top of them. Warm up covered with an aluminium sheet before serving.
This is probably my favourite version of roasted pork loin. A sauce that features hazelnuts, stout beer and cream, what’s not to love there?