South Africa is a melting pot of culinary ideas. Given our history, we’re always looking for something fresh and different that we can call our own. Right now there is a boom in the local artisanal gin world and, if you follow my social media posts, you’ll know how obsessed I am with the spirit. I’m often trying out a new local gin, and one that stands out from the crowd is Inverroche.
So, why would a chef be writing about gin? Well, when you’re at culinary school you’re also taught about the world of alcohol and how to perfectly balance the flavour in it with the food you’re serving. Everyone knows this as “food pairing” and that chefs are obsessed with cooking with wine.
So this recipe is about cooking with gin, which is awesome because of the strong herb-based flavour it has. Gin works well with white meats such as fish, pork and chicken. It’s wonderful in cures for salmon if you want to attempt to make a salmon gravlax, and does wonders for pork marinades and in basting sauces for chicken. Below is my recipe for pork loin with olive and gin sauce.
450g pork loin100ml plum sauce (available at Woolworths)
50ml soy sauce15ml mixed dry herbs
100ml gin (I used Inverroche)
45ml Rooibos-infused honey (normal honey will do too)10 lemon-stuffed buffet cocktail olives
1. Using a sharp knife, cut off as much sinew from the outer layer of the pork loin as possible (sinew doesn’t cook well and ends up causing your meat to be tough).
2. Pour all the other ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Place the loin in the marinade, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight. It’s always tempting, but don’t add salt.
3. Once the pork has marinated overnight, remove from the dish and allow to rest at room temperature for half an hour.
4. Slice the loin into segments about two fingers thick.
5. Heat a pan and add about three spoonfuls of butter to it along with the olives.
6. Once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, place the pieces of loin in the pan.
However, do not grill the pork like you would normally – tilt the pan slightly until the hot butter has pooled on one side of the pan.
7. Using a spoon, scoop the hot butter over the loin pieces. Do this continuously. Once the underside of the loin has browned to a dark golden colour, flip it over and repeat the scooping of butter process until the meat is well browned on all sides.
8. Using tongs, remove the meat and place it in an oven tray.
9. Remove the olives and set aside. Do not discard the melted butter.
Leftover pork marinade10 grilled lemon-stuffed buffet olives, sliced into rings125ml double cream10ml classic gin (I used Inverroche)1 teaspoon crushed garlic1 tablespoon Dijon mustard3 sprigs finely chopped thyme3 sprigs finely chopped rosemary2 tablespoons rooibos-infused honey (normal honey will do too)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In the pan you’ve just used to grill the meat, add the leftover marinade to the melted butter.
2. Add the garlic, mustard and herbs. Stir well to incorporate the mustard into the sauce.
3. Add the olives to the pan.
4. Pour the remaining ingredients into the pan and allow the sauce to simmer until thickened (about 15 minutes), stirring regularly.
Check out more recipes on Semenya’s blog.
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ALSO READ: 6 Cool SA gin distilleries to check out