I think maybe the title for this post sounds like a sentence out of a Gertrude Stein manuscript, but I promise it all makes sense. The idea for this post came from my recently renewed fascination with homemade jams - which I'm sure is part of a larger infatuation with all things "throwback" or "vintage". For me, the leading preservationist in the jam craft are celebrities nearly as much as Brad Pitt might be to the average person: June Taylor, Eugenia Bone, and, of course, Christine Ferber of Mes Confitures fame - they're the people I'd like to see on Conan. While I don't exactly hang their posters around my kitchen or anything, I'm pretty sure I'd ask for their autographs and to take a picture with them if I were to bump into them on the street, and that's more than I'd do for any of the cast of Gossip Girl.
Lately here in Chicago there has been a new name on the scene that has been continually peaking my interest: Elizabeth Madden of Rare Bird Preserves. Madden's jars of unique fruit combinations were available this past Summer at my local farmer's market in the Andersonville neighborhood. I'd find myself overwhelmed with curiosity and pass by the crowded booth once, twice, and then a third time: it seemed whenever I happened by there was never a lull in the groups sampling for me to be able to make my move and start asking my gazillion questions. I limited myself to mutely sampling from jars with rapturous parings like strawberries and chocolate.
Thankfully later in the season the Chicago Reader featured an article about Rare Bird and it's mastermind that answered most of the questions for me, and only served to validate my interest. To boil it down (get it?), here are the things that I love about Rare Bird:
- Preserves are made in small batches, out of in-season fruits. If the ingredients aren't up to par, that particular recipe is on hold until they are.
- Madden uses natural pectin sources, like lemon and apple peelings. No powder in sight.
- The varieties are the definition of whimsical: from Chocolate Orange to Meyer Lemon Rosemary.
At this point I should probably go on record to say that as of the writing of this, the people at Rare Bird, including Ms. Madden have no idea who I am, and have likely never bumped into Peas Love Carrots during a web search. I decided to whip up a recipe based on one of her preserves just because it seemed like a nifty thing to do - and a good excuse to buy a jar and steal spoonfuls during cooking.
So here you go - if you're not fortunate enough to be able to get your hands on this awesome preserve, I've included substitutes you can use, and even just any preserves as close to this one could work, I'd suppose... it just won't be as much fun to snack on the leftovers...
Five Spice Pork Loin with Apple-Hibiscus-Plum Glaze
What to get...
1 whole boneless pork loin - fat on (approx 2 lbs)
For the wet rub...
2 tablespoons of 5 spice powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cracked Szechuan peppercorns (or regular)
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
Salt to taste
For the glaze...
1/2 cup Rare Bird Apple-Hibiscus-Plum preserves
- OR -
1/2 green apple peeled and julienne
3 tablespoons apple jam
1 plum, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup hibiscus tea, brewed
(Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan and simmer for 20 mins or until thick)
What to do with it all...
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine rub ingredients and coat pork loin with them
Heat a large oven-proof skillet on high and sear your loin on all sides until brown
Spoon over preserves or substitute glaze
Place skillet in the oven and roast until internal temperature is 145 degrees (about 1 hour) for a slightly pinkish center
Broil on high for 1 - 2 minutes on top rack to get a little extra caramelization on the glaze
Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 - 20 minutes
Serve with braised red cabbage
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