Loin of pork might be one of the cheapest cuts of meat out there. Yet if cooked the right way it can still deliver some fine meat dishes. Oven-roasting is my favourite method, especially when using some beer. My favourite option of all is with hazelnuts: roasted pork loin drowned in a rich creamy hazelnut sauce. This combination elevates this relatively cheap meat to another level, the perfect recipe for an autumn dinner.
Once upon a time my dad made me meat with hazelnut sauce. My mom was away for a week and I was still deemed too young to cook (what a sad prejudice). So that week’s kitchen duties were on my dad. This was when he made that amazing pork roast with hazelnut sauce. I’ve been teasing him to prepare it again for years, but this somehow never happened. I never forgot that delicious pork in hazelnut sauce. So when I grew old enough to be allowed to cook I taught myself how to make meat with hazelnuts. Like that roasted pork my dad had made me once.
Why hazelnuts, you may ask. Hazelnuts are a staple in my parents’ house. The region in Italy where I come from is the producer of one of the finest kinds of hazelnuts you can find in the country. Suffice to say the combination of hazelnut and chocolate is kind of a thing of my region as that is also where Nutella was invented. A package of hazelnuts from our region is something that always tags along in my mother’s suitcase when she comes visit, so I’m basically never short of the delicious nuts.
Read more: Panna Cotta with Nutella and Hazelnuts
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 in hazelnut sauce
- 800 g pork loin
- 100 g hazelnuts
- 2 shallots
- 200 ml cream (15% fat)
- 100 ml stout beer
- 2 bay leaves
- dried rosemary and salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 220°C. 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.
In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts and set aside. Mince the shallot. Add the minced shallot to the casserole and scatter half of the ground hazelnuts all over the meat. Sprinkle with dried rosemary.
When the oven has reached the desired temperature, put the casserole in, placing it on the top part of the oven. 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. This will toast the hazelnuts.
Take the dish out of the oven and lower the temperature to 200°C. Pour the stout beer into the casserole and add the bay leaves. Flip over the pork loin so that the drier part will now be dipped in the beer. Cover the casserole with an aluminium sheet and return the dish into the oven, to the middle rack. Bake covered for 40 minutes at 200°C.
After 40 minutes remove the aluminium sheet, turn the meat around and add half of the cream to the beer and hazelnut sauce. Continue baking for another hour, occasionally turning the meat around in order to avoid overly drying its top part. To test if the loin is cooked through, 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 comes out in the toothpick test.
When fully cooked, take the meat out of the oven. Scrape down into the sauce all the hazelnut bits attached to the pork loin. Let cool until easy to handle.
Take out the piece of meat and cut it into about 1-cm thick slices. Transfer the sauce to another container and blend it, adding the rest of the cream. Adjust the salt if needed. Return meat slices back into the casserole and pour the blended hazelnut sauce all over. Warm up covered with aluminium 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 here? As I said before, as cheap as this cut of meat can be, this hazelnut sauce will definitely make it feel much more gourmet.