Today’s tip started out simply as an example of how to use fresh rosemary sprigs (photo #4) as a decorative herb over the holidays.
You can place a sprig in a cocktail or mineral water, use it as a plume for mashed potatoes, use it as skewers for olives or berries, and use it as a plate garnish, as in photo #1 where it’s used to separate hors d’oeuvre on a tray.
Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus, is a woody perennial herb with fragrant leaves that resemble evergreen needles (no relation). It is native to the Mediterranean region.
Rosemary is a member of the Lamiaceae family, that also includes other aromatic culinary herbs such as basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme.
The first mention of rosemary is found on cuneiform stone tablets from around 5000 B.C.E. The Egyptians used it in their burial rituals [source].
Much later, in 8th-century Britain, Charlemagne, who promoted herbs in general, ordered rosemary to be grown in monastic gardens and farms.
In Britain, rosemary became a popular seasoning in a variety of dishes: casseroles, chicken and other poultry, fish (especially stronger/oily fish), game, lamb, pork, salads, soups, steaks and stews.
Homeopathically, rosemary contains compounds that are help to improve digestion and increase circulation.
This recipe requires brining the pork loins 24 hours in advance. Then, the additional recipe cook time is 1 hour 45 minutes.
If you don’t want to spend the time cooking pork tenderloin, just substitute store-bought ham.
You can also make the apple-raisin compote in a few days in advance, further speeding up the prep.
This recipe is courtesy of chef/owner Natalie Niksa of La Saison in Napa Valley.
For a smaller crowd, it’s easy to halve the recipe.
She pairs it with Duckhorn Wines Sauvignon Blanc (photo #2—it’s one of our favorites as well).
1. MAKE the brine for the pork. Combine all ingredients (except the pork tenderloin) in a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Steep for 20 minutes and then cool completely. Once the brine is cold, add the pork tenderloins and brine for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
2. MAKE the compote. Bring the water and sugar to a boil until large bubbles start to form and the sugar starts to caramelize (approximately 15 minutes). Be careful at this stage: The sugar is VERY HOT and can burn when making caramel. Once the water and sugar have formed large bubbles and have started to caramelize…
3. REMOVE the pot from the heat and slowly add the wine, using a wooden spoon. It is important to add the wine slowly so that the caramel does not seize. Stir until the wine and caramel are completely incorporated.
4. TURN the heat to low. Add the apples, raisins, bay leaves and ginger, and cook until the apples are tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and cool completely. Add the Dijon and apple cider vinegar. Season with salt to taste. If made in advance and refrigerated, remove to the counter to warm when you are ready to assemble and serve.
When ready to cook the pork…
5. DRY the tenderloins using a paper towel. Then let the pork sit out for 30 minutes to get to room temperature before cooking.
6. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Slice the baguette into 40 slices, place on a baking sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Toast for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove and set aside.
7. COOK the pork. Heat the oil in a medium-size pan lightly coated with the oil, and sear the pork on all sides until golden brown (approximately 7-10 minutes). Finish in the 350°F oven for 12 minutes until fully cooked and the pork registers 135°-140°F. The temperature will continue to rise after the pork is out of the oven.
8. MOVE the pork to a cutting board, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Then slice to fit on top of crostini.
9. ASSEMBLE. Place the pork on top of the crostini and garnish with the apple compote.
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