A cut above

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 April, 2012, 12:00am


Pork loin is one of the easiest cuts of meat to prepare: it's boneless, reasonably fatty and can be cooked whole or sliced into pieces for pork 'steaks', Chinese stir-fries and myriad other dishes. Don't mistake it for the pork tenderloin, though, which is a lot leaner.

Pork schnitzel with potato salad (pictured)

8 slices boneless pork loin, about 120 grams each

120 grams all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp paprika 1-2 eggs

About 150 grams panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Oil, for pan frying

Lemon wedges, for serving

Parsley or chervil leaves, to garnish

For the potato salad:

800 grams fingerling potatoes

250 grams sliced streaky bacon, cut into 1cm-wide pieces

3 large shallots, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

25 grams grainy mustard

20ml rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

About 60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a sheet of cling film on a work surface. Place a slice of pork loin in the middle of the cling film, then cover it with another sheet of cling film. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the pork as thinly as possible - it should be about 5mm thick. As you pound it, occasionally lift the cling film and smooth it out on both sides of the meat. Repeat with each slice of pork. Place the meat slices - still in the cling-film layers - on a plate, then refrigerate while making the potato salad.

Scrub the potatoes but leave the skin on. Put them in a pan and cover with cool water. Stir in about two teaspoons of salt, then place over a medium flame and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the potatoes until just tender enough to be pierced with a fork; do not overcook them. Drain them, then add cold water to the pan. Strip the skins from the potatoes while they are still warm then cut them into large chunks.

While the potatoes are simmering, cook the bacon by putting it into an unoiled skillet set over a medium flame. Cook until the bacon is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan, then drain it on paper towels. Pour off all but about 60ml of bacon grease from the pan. Put the diced shallots into the pan and cook over a low flame until soft.

In a bowl, mix the mustard with the rice wine vinegar and sugar, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the bacon, shallots and celery. Add the warm potato to the bowl (it absorbs the dressing better when it's warm) and mix to coat lightly. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Cover with cling film and set aside while cooking the schnitzel.

Put the flour in a shallow pan and thoroughly mix in the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. Whisk the eggs in a separate pan and put the panko in a third pan. Heat oil to a depth of 1cm in a skillet set over a medium flame.

Dredge a piece of pork in the flour and shake off the excess, then coat it in the beaten egg. Dredge on both sides in the panko and pat the meat gently so the breadcrumbs stick. Fry in the hot oil (about 180 degrees Celsius) for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.

Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the potato salad and mix it in before spooning it onto plates. Place the pork schnitzel on plates, add a lemon wedge to each serving and garnish with parsley or chervil leaves.

Pork loin braised in milk

I first read about pork loin braised in milk in a cookbook by Italian food authority Marcella Hazan. The milk can be flavoured with ingredients such as onion, garlic and spices, but I prefer it with fresh sage and strips of lemon zest.

Choose a large, thick chunk of pork loin, rather than a narrow strip of meat.

1kg boneless pork loin

20ml cooking oil

25 grams unsalted butter

2 strips of lemon zest about 1cm-wide (removed with a vegetable peeler)

2-4 sage leaves, depending on their size

About 1 litre whole milk

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle salt lightly but evenly over the entire pork loin and leave for about an hour at room temperature. Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep pan that will fit all the ingredients. When the oil and butter are hot, carefully place the meat in the pan and leave it undisturbed until the bottom is medium brown. Turn the pork over and brown it on all sides, then add enough milk so that the bottom half of the meat is immersed. Bring to a simmer over a medium flame then add the sage leaves and lemon zest. Turn the heat to very low, put the lid on the pan and simmer for two to three hours, turning the meat over every 30 minutes.

It's ready when the meat is very tender. Carefully remove the meat from the pan and discard the lemon zest and sage. Simmer the milk until it forms a slightly lumpy sauce, then whisk it until smooth; if needed, strain through a sieve. Taste the sauce and add pepper and salt, if needed.

Cut the pork into thick slices then spoon the sauce on top before serving.

Styling Nellie Ming Lee