It pays to leave cookbooks lying about when my mother comes to town. This week she surprised us with two great mid-week home-cooked meals. All I had to do was take the picture.
Last night's spread was from Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren's A16: Food & Wine (Ten Speed Press), a book from the acclaimed A16 restaurant in San Francisco that, despite it having come out a year ago, I hadn't yet explored. This is a book worth checking out if you like the casual food of Southern Italy (A16 is the name of the highway that runs across the region) and appreciate smart wine talk accompanying your recipes. I got to page through it as mom finished cooking and am looking forward to cooking from it more.
We had the Pork Loin Spiedino with Pine Nut, Garlic, and Currant Soffritto and a generous helping of the Potato Torta. Spiedino meals "littlte spit" and refers to the traditional way this kind of dish is made, over an open fire grill. In our little apartment, we adapted with my Staub grill pan.
It was the perfect meal: every craving satisfied with salt, sweet, oil, lively greens. Here's an adapted recipe for 4 servings of the pork dish:
Pork Loin Spiedino with Pine Nut, Garlic, and Currant Soffritto
Adapted from A16 Food + Wine
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup dried currants or raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces arugula, a handful for each serving
In a bowl, toss the pork with the salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least overnight or up to 3 days.
To make the soffritto, soak the currants in just enough warm water to cover for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pine nuts and 1/3 cup of the olive oil to a small, heavy pot and place over low heat. Gradually bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts have started to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook on low heat for about 8 minutes, or until the garlic is a light golden brown. Watch the soffritto carefully; the pine nuts and garlic will burn easily. Drain the currants, add them to the pot, and then remove the pot from the heat. Let the soffritto cool to room temperature. It will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the pork from the refrigerator. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to cover to prevent them from scorching. If grilling, prepare a hot fire in a grill, stacking the coals to one side so you have two areas of heat, one with direct heat and one with indirect heat. If cooking stove-top, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan.
Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the pork and toss to coat evenly. If using skewers, drain them, and thread about 5 pieces of pork onto each skewer.
Place the meat over the coals or on pan and cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until well seared. Move the skewers to the cooler side of the grill or pan and continue to cook over indirect heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked medium-well but still juicy.
Arrange a bed of arugula on a platter. Place the pork on top. Drizzle some of the soffritto over the top of the pork and the arugula. Pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serve immediately.
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