You know what’s sexy? A man who can cook. And you know what’s even sexier? Cooking alongside your man.
I think planning and making a meal together is the ultimate romantic activity, and the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day—or any day—at home.
Roving the market holding hands and selecting luscious ingredients. Working in perfect harmony in the kitchen, gorgeous music playing in the background, glasses of red wine nearby, sneaking kisses over the chopping board, maybe even a little butt squeeze or two. Ahhh…I can’t even take it. I’m getting breathless.
And I’m not alone. In a recent survey commissioned by duBreton, North America’s number one producer of Certified Human Raised and Handled pork, 85% of Canadians say a home cooked, candle-light dinner prepared by or with their partner inspires romance in their lives. Want to keep the sparks flying? Ditch the expensive prix fixe Valentine’s Day meals out, be like 70% of Canadians who say that sharing in meal prep is a recipe for a long-lasting relationship, and heat things up at home.
So the next question is what’s on the menu when you want to celebrate your love? When I’m making a special dinner a deux, I look for dishes that are bursting with flavours but are easy to prepare. I want my man to moan with happiness, not long-awaited hunger.
A perfectly cooked, delicious piece of meat and a flavourful sauce usually holds centre stage. Something elegant and inspired, yet homey and completely us.
Inspired by a classic recipe from my childhood, my Boneless Pork Loin Marbella is a #duBretonDelicious feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Incorporating sweet and salty flavours, wine, and figs—a fecund, bountiful romantic fruit—this Marbella is the perfect V-Day delight.
The best part? Even if your guy can’t cook, he can sous chef the heck out of this super easy to prepare recipe. Or at least keep your glass topped up and the fire roaring.
BONELESS PORK LOIN CHOPS MARBELLA
Elegant and decadent, this recipe smells delicious the moment the marinade is mixed. Be careful not to overcook the chops as they’ll get dry. The good thing is that the marinade turned to sauce will keep the meat nice and moist throughout cooking.
The key ingredient, besides your love, is the duBreton pork from their ethically-produced Rustic Farm Pork (blue label) and Organic (green label) range. All duBreton pork is from pigs raised in a crate-free environment on family farms in Ontario and Quebec, without antibiotics and fed a high-quality vegetarian diet. The pigs have free access to shelter and hay or straw bedded resting areas as well as the space and ability to engage in natural activity.
This recipe serves 2 with leftovers as it’s absolutely delicious served cold or room temperature the next day. It can also be easily doubled or even tripled to serve a crowd.
Prep Time: 15 minutes + time to marinade
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 3 duBreton organic boneless pork loin chops (just over .5 kg in total)
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- About 6 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped off the stem, and leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (170 g) dried figs, halved
- 4-5 dried dates, pitted*
- 1/4 cup (21 g) green olives, pitted*
- 1/4 cup (21 g) capers + 1 scant tbsp (14 ml) of juice from the jar
- 2-3 fresh bay leaves
- Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste (go easy on salt due to the olives and capers)
- 1/4 cup (21 g) brown or coconut sugar**
- 1/2 cup (60 ml) white wine + additional 1/2 cup if needed
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
1. Combine marinade ingredients (garlic through salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag or dish). Place duBreton organic boneless pork loin chops in the dish and mix to coat the meat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
2. 20 minutes before cooking, remove pork from fridge and let come to room temperature.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
4. Heat an oven proof skillet to high heat. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil. Remove the chops from the marinade and dry them with a paper towel. Sear the chops for about 1-2 minutes on each side to brown. Remove chops from skillet.
5. Deglaze pan with white wine, and then add the marinade to the pan. Cook the sauce, covered, for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the chops back into the pan. Sprinkle the chops with brown sugar, and add a little more white wine if more liquid is necessary.
7. Place pan in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the chops reach an internal temperature of 40 – 145 °F. If you don’t have an oven thermometer, use the touch test: Pork should have the same firmness as the base of your thumb when you touch the pads of your thumb and ring finger together.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the chops to each plate or a serving dish. Spoon the fig mixture over top, along with some juices. Garnish with parsley.
Serve with a light green salad dressed simply with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper. Don’t forget to get a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the juices with.
ARE YOU DROOLING?
*To pit olives and dates: Lay the olive or date on a cutting board. Place the flat side of a chef’s knife over top of it. Hold tight to the handle with one hand. Make a fist with the other and bang the knife with the bottom of your fist. The olive or date will split open and you can easily remove the pit.
** Coconut sugar is readily available in the organic section of most grocery stores and at all health food or organic markets. It’s a little less sweet than regular white or brown sugar, healthier, and since it has a lower GI index, it is safe for diabetics. It’s a great option for those looking to lower their sugar intake.
This post was generously sponsored by duBreton but we’re proud to say the recipe is our very own.