#CulinaryTherapy : Brined Pork Loins with Mango Black Tea
Earlier this year, I watched the Season 3 finale of MasterChef Junior and couldn’t get over the fact these tiny humans were kicking major ass in the kitchen; one of the finalists, 12 year old Nathan Odom stood out to me. I was fascinated with his ingenuity and decision to incorporate Earl Grey tea (one of his favorite teas) into his dessert and this detail has remained in the back of my mind since then.
Whenever I’ve tried to take a nap, my creativity kicks into overdrive and I’ll start brainstorming new ways to jazz up my cooking or come up with different methods to incorporate into my baking.
Yesterday before another attempted nap, I reread one of my favorite cookbooks, “Bi-Rite’s Market Eat Good Food: A Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food.” It’s become somewhat of a culinary bible, helping me understand the best ways to shop for herbs, fruits, veggies, seafood and produce, along with tasty recipes and personal stories.
One of the insightful tips I discovered in the pork chapter entioned: “brining, (is) a great way to add flavor to pork and ensure juiciness.” And after reading the simple brine instructions: combine 8 cups of water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved; something inside of me clicked, my mind immediately retrieved the tidbit about Masterchef Junior Nathan Odom’s tea trick and I practically raced to the grocery store to buy some pork.
Since I wasn’t able to find pork chops that appealed to me, I picked up a 3 pack of pork loins and a box of Hawaiian Coffee Company’s Mango Maui Tropical Black Tea. When I got home, I boiled half a pot of water with a couple pinches of Hawaiian salt, sugar cane and added 4 bags of Mango Black Tea to the pot. I figured if 8 cups of water was necessary to brine pork, wouldn’t 4 cups of tea create even more flavor?
After the mango black tea cooled, I poured the contents into a baking pan and squeezed half a lemon with pulp into it. I then placed my 3 pork loins seasoned with my usual mixture: salt / fresh ground black pepper /a sprinkle of sugar inside, placed a couple sprigs of dill around the pan and diced 2 tablespoons of Land O Lakes Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt (which melted into the brine). To ensure I didn’t go overboard with salt, I chopped up a couple pieces of Enjoy Snacks’ Sweet Li Hing Mui for flavor.
I carefully placed the baking pan into the refrigerator for ~ 40 minutes while I worked on the rest of the components for dinner: creating a caramelized peach topping for my pork, cooking green beans, sautéing ribbon carrots with olive oil and topping with Feta cheese and trying my hand at making Hinode Black Rice for the first time.