Wandering Thru Food September, 2011.

Tomatillo-Braised pork loin with herby white beans and bacon

      From Frontera Kitchens;

      "This is simply one of the best dishes we've included here. And though you'll think 'Italian' when you lay the slices of roast pork alongside the saucy white beans, one bite will convince you that Mexico gave this dish its soul. With salsa at the ready, everything about this spectacular dish is quite simple. So keep this recipe in mind when you're entertaining without a lot of time to spare. (You could even use rinsed canned white beans to save time). If you see fresh purslane (verdolagas) at the farmers' market or have it growing in your garden, add young 2-inch pieces to the sauce along with the beans for a traditionally Mexican flavor."

      Serves 4 to 6


      1 cup (7 ounces) small white beans, picked over
      1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (thyme and marjoram are classic in Mexico)
      3 bay leaves
      4 thick slices smoky bacon
      1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast, untied
      Salt, about 1 teaspoon, plus a sprinkling for the meat
      3 cups Frontera Tomatillo Salsa
      1 small branch fresh epazote if available
      Sprigs of cilantro, parsley, watercress or epazote, for garnish


      In a medium-size saucepan, combine the beans with a generous 3 cups of water, add the herbs and bay leaves, partially cover and set over high heat. When the pot comes to a good rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the beans very gently (partially covered) until they are tender, about 1 hour (if you simmer them gently enough, they won't begin to fall apart before becoming thoroughly tender). Add more water if the beans ever begin peeking up above the surface of the water.
      While the beans cook, in a medium-size (6-quart) Dutch oven, cook the bacon slices over medium heat, turning them occasionally, until thoroughly crispy. Remove to drain on paper towels; when cool, crumble. Tip up the Dutch oven slightly on one end and spoon off most of the fat that collects, adding it to the simmering beans.
      Heat the oven to 325 degrees. If your pork loin roast is in two sections that have been tied together, untie them. Sprinkle the meat liberally with salt. Set the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and, when quite hot, lay in the pork. Brown thoroughly on all sides, about 10 minutes total, then pour in the salsa. Nestle in the epazote if you have it, set on the pot's cover and place in the oven. Cook until the pork registers about 150F on a meat or instant-read thermometer. The meat will feel rather firm (not hard) to the touch, and cutting into the center will reveal only the slightest hint of pink. The total cooking time should be about 40 minutes. Remove the epazote if you've used it, and set the pot aside uncovered.
      When the beans are tender, season them with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Let stand a few minutes for the beans to absorb the seasoning, then drain off their cooking liquid. Remove the pork to a cutting board, add the beans to the pork pot, set over medium heat and season with salt. Slice the pork, laying the slices slightly overlapping on a warm serving platter. Spoon the beans and sauce around the meat, sprinkle everything with the crumbled bacon, garnish with herb sprigs, and carry to the table.
      Recipe excerpted from Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless (Simon & Schuster).

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