Smoked Pork Loin with Spiced Apple Compote

Christmas Dinner

December 25, 2009

2:00 PM


Prosciutto, Pesto & Fontina Palmiers

– Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut –

Main Course

Smoked Pork Loin with Spiced Apple Compote

Gingered Sweet Potatoes

Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions & Crisped Pancetta

– Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages –


Buche de Noel


The final Christmas dinner of this first decade of the new millenium had to be spectacular… besides, my mom would be an honored dinner guest this year and it was important to show her that we could actually cook quite well and set a beautiful table too!  What should have the honor of being the “piece de resistance”?  Should it be prime rib cooked to pink perfection… or a beautifully roasted goose?  What about turkey?  Hmmm… maybe not.  In the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story” the Parker’s bird didn’t fare well thanks to the Bumpus hounds stealing the roasted bird from their kitchen table.  As Ralphie said following that event,  “The heavenly aroma still hung in the house.  But it was gone, all gone!  No turkey!  No turkey sandwiches!  No turkey salad!  No turkey gravy!  Turkey hash!  Turkey a la King!  Or gallons of turkey soup!  Gone… ALL GONE!”

Since we had to be assured that there would be left-overs in order for Mom to have a spectacular sandwich to take with her on her flight back to Minnesota the next day we opted for a beautiful 6-pound center cut pork loin from Berkeley Bowl West.  We watched with satisfaction as the butcher deboned and trimmed the loin… and smiled with great pleasure several days later as this brined and wonderfully smoked cut of meat was sliced, generously garnished with a perfect Spiced Apple Compote and served with Gingered Sweet Potatoes and Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions and Crisped Pancetta.

Smoked Pork Loin with Spiced Apple Compote



A day in advance combine in a large pot:

  • 1 qt water
  • 2 qt orange juice
  • 2 C seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 C cider vinegar
  • 1 750 ml bottle dry sherry (we recommend Hartley & Gibson’s Amontillado)
  • 1 C kosher salt
  • 1 C golden brown sugar
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 C grated fresh ginger
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 4 fresh bay leaves

In a heavy skillet toast over moderately high heat, then add to the pot:

  • 1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp allspice berries
  • 2 tsp fennel seed

Chef’s Note:  Swirl heated pan containing the spices until the fragrant essences have been released.

Bring brine to boiling over high heat and boil for 5 – 10 minutes.  Refrigerate overnight or until cold.

  • 1 5-6 lb center cut pork loin

Place the pork loin into the brine, totally submerging the meat.  We recommend placing the pork loin in a large heavy contractor’s bag, adding the brine, then squeezing out as much air as possible.  Tie the bag tightly and place in the refrigerator to brine.  Alternatively, place the bag in an ice chest or cooler and cover with ice.  Brine for 12 hours.

Remove the loin from the brining liquid, then rinse and pat dry, allowing it to come to room temperature before roasting or smoking.  As the loin is warming, prepare the dry rub.  In a small bowl combine:

  • 1/2 C golden brown sugar
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix to combine and apply rub to pork loin:

Drizzle loin with extra virgin olive oil and slather over entire surface of the meat.  If smoking the loin, regulate the internal temperature of the smoking chamber to 300 degrees and place the prepared pork loin on the smoking rack with an internal temperature thermometer positioned in the center of the loin:

Continue to monitor the temperature of the smoking chamber and smoke until the internal temp of the meat reaches 145 degrees, approximately 2 hours:

Remove from the smoker, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 – 15 minutes prior to carving.  The internal temp of the meat will continue to rise an additional 10 degrees during the resting period.

If roasting the loin, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a heavy large skillet over moderately high heat and add:

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add the pork loin and brown well on all sides.  Transfer to a roasting pan and roast until the internal center temperature is 145 degrees.  Tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 – 15 minutes prior to carving for service.

Place the carved pork slices atop a serving of Gingered Sweet Potatoes and garnish with Spiced Apple Compote.


Spiced Apple Compote


Place in a small bowl or Pyrex measuring cup:

  • 3/4 C dried pitted prunes, quartered
  • brandy to cover

Heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes and allow to plump for a minimum of 20 minutes.  When plumped, reserve the prunes and discard the remaining liquid.

Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add:

  • 3 T unsalted sweet butter
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil

When the butter ceases to crackle add:

  • 1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to color, approximately 8 – 10 minutes.  To the pan add:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • the plumped prunes
  • 1 1/2 C apple juice
  • 1 tsp fennel, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp cloves, ground
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Cook until the liquid has reduced and the apples retain their shape.  Do not overcook lest the apples become mushy.  Adjust the seasonings if necessary.  The compote can be made in advance, refrigerated and then rewarmed prior to service.

Gingered Sweet Potatoes

Heat a medim-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add:

  • 1 T unsalted sweet butter

When the butter has melted add:

  • 2 C heavy cream

Bring to a simmer and add:

  • 2 T caramelized garlic
  • 1/4 C finely chopped candied ginger

Reduce by approximately 1/3 over low heat.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

In a large saucepan place:

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until they can be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, approximately 20 minutes.  Drain and immediately transfer to a food processor.  Add:

  • the warmed cream mixture
  • 1 T dry sherry (Amontillado recommended)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

Process until well blended.  Add:

  • 1/4 C creme fraiche
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tspwhite pepper, or to taste

Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl for service or keep warmed in a bain marie until service, stirring occasionally.

Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions & Crisped Pancetta

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat and add:

  • 4-oz finely cubed pancetta

Fry until the pancetta is crisp and rendered of its fat:

Transfer the crisped pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Trim and cut in half lengthwise:

  • 1 1/2 lb brussels sprouts

In a heavy 12-inch sauteuse over moderate heat melt:

  • 3 T unsalted sweet butter

When butter is melted add:

  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped


  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled and minced


Saute for 3 minutes, or until softened.  Stir in:

  • the brussels sprouts
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced

Cook 4 minutes more or until the onions begin to take on color.  Add:

  • 3/4 C chicken stock (preferably unsalted)

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring continuously, for 3 – 4 minutes, or until the broth is nearly evaporated. Add:

  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 3 T prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Simmer for 4 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.  Add:

  • 8-oz frozen pearl onions

 Stir to combine and add:

  • 4 T creme fraiche
  • 1/2 C Parmigiano – Reggiano
  • the crisped pancetta
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper

Mix well and transfer to a buttered 1-1/2 quart casserole.  Dust with the remaining Parmigiano – Reggiano and bake uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the onions and sprouts are tender, testing with the tip of a paring knife.  Serve steaming hot, garnished with chives.

Our Christmas dinner was made complete with a festively decorated Buche de Noel, a wonderful chocolate souffle roll filled with raspberry curd and whipped cream and decorated with sprightly meringue mushrooms and marzipan holly leaves and berries.  We truly were able to proclaim… Bon Appetit!


Copyright 2010 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Tags: , ,

Categories: Condiments, Pork, Vegetables

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!


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3 Comments on “Smoked Pork Loin with Spiced Apple Compote”

  1. January 24, 2010 at 10:41 AM #

    Hi there, I really enjoyed this post. I have just started up a website and began to create rather diverse articles for it. Would you mind if I blog about this article? I will of course provide you and this post full credit and add a link to this page :D.

    • January 25, 2010 at 6:47 AM #

      The Christmas post included a delicious savory take on your passion… apples! Please write as you are inspired… and know that there are more wonderful apple dishes and recipes forthcoming!

  2. Monet Danner
    February 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM #

    I’ve been looking through your website. You have some interesting posts on here, especially this one. I really enjoyed it… consider yourself bookmarked!

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