Because the kiddos are getting ready to head back to school, I have easy meals on the brain. Trying to keep track of who needs to be where, what papers must be signed and returned, and which after school activity attended is pretty much a full-time job. I sometimes joke with my beloved that we need a wife to run our lives, so that I can outsource the boring tasks and just do the fun stuff. Until I find this miracle worker, however, it’s my job to get those things done and feed our crew. When we are busy, simple recipes that only need a few minutes’ effort are sometimes all I can manage. Of course, I want it to be tasty as well.
For this dinner, I needed to make the pork loin extremely mild — my youngest girl hates even the idea of spice — so a simple coating of salt and pepper was all it needed. Keeping the seasoning simple also makes it a cinch to use the leftovers in other dishes.
However, I also wanted some big flavor to accompany this mild meat.
As I have mentioned, I grew up in Chicago, and growing up in Chicago means eating classic Chicago-style foods, like Italian beef sandwiches with giardiniera (a mix of pickled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, celery and hot peppers). It’s full of hearty, tangy flavor and is the only condiment I am not ashamed to eat straight out of the jar. However, I only had a spare 30 minutes, and not the weeks of aging real giardiniera requires. So I took a virtual detour from Little Italy to Pilsen and created a big-flavored salsa instead.
For the salsa, I threw in slices of carrot in a nod to my favorite condiment, along with the more usual peppers, tomatoes, and the like; they stay pleasantly crisp even after days in the fridge. I deliberately left garlic out of this salsa, but if you miss it, just add in a finely minced clove or two.
Coating the cooked meat in the salsa before serving means the outer pieces soak up the spicy flavor, the inner slices stay mild, and everyone is happy. If only it were so easy the rest of the time.
- 5 lbs. pork loin
- Sea salt
- 4 small carrots
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 hot peppers
- 8 small scallions
- 1/4 bunch cilantro
- Salt to taste
- Remove pork from package; rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper all sides of the meat thoroughly. Place in a slow cooker; cook for 6-8 hours on low.
- With a food processor set with the slicing blade, slice the carrots. (If you do not have a food processor, a mandoline or sharp knife will work just as well). Place in a medium bowl.
- Dice the tomatoes; add to the bowl.
- Slice peppers into rounds, and add to the carrot-tomato mixture. Repeat with scallions.
- Finely mince the cilantro; you should have roughly 3-4 tablespoons. Add to the mixture and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- 20 minutes before serving, remove pork from crock pot and place on platter. Cover with salsa and let sit to meld flavors.