Pork Fillet with Middle Eastern Spices
“What am I going to do with all this food?!” It’s never a nice moment when you realise that your freezer has iced over. I noticed it a few nights ago. Someone had obviously left the door slightly ajar and over the following few days the ice build up became so bad that you could no longer remove food from the shelves. There was only one thing for it – a full defrosting. Although there wasn’t an awful lot of food in the freezer, there was enough to make using it all at once a bit of a chore. I passed some of my food onto my parents, some was too waterlogged to salvage and some will become lunch and dinner over the next few days.
One item lurking at the back of the freezer since Christmas was a free range pork fillet. I got it off Fergus from Pigs on the Green when I collected my ham on 23rd of December and had put it into the freezer with the intention of cooking it in January. With all the excitement of Christmas I had forgotten all about it. Until yesterday that is, when I took it out of the defrosting freezer.
Following on from my piece on small plates (An Pláta Beag), this recipe is perfect for such a meal. Paired up with a nice green salad and maybe some roast vegetables, it is the perfect centrepiece. The spice mix, taking influence from za’atar and dukkah, can be used on any meat/fish/vegetable. It is aromatic and provides a nice texture to whatever it coats. I also like to use it as a dip – mixed with extra virgin olive oil, it is perfect for dipping bread or vegetables into. The recipe below makes far more spice mix than you will need for this recipe. Keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge where it will happily sit for a month or more (if it lasts that long).
Serves 4 as part of a small plate meal
For the spice mix:
50g Flaked Almonds
1 tbsp Cumin Seed
1 tbsp Fennel Seed
1 tbsp Sumac
1 tbsp Dried Oregano
2 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
350g Free Range Pork Fillet (trimmed)
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To make the spice mix: add all of the ingredients except the salt to a dry frying pan and set it over a medium heat. Allow the ingredients to toast, stirring often until aromatic and lightly browned. Be careful not to burn as it will turn the mix bitter. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before blitzing in a processor (or pounding in a pestle and mortar) with the salt. A brief blitz is all that is required, a bit of texture is wanted.
Make a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons of the spice mix with the extra virgin olive oil. Rub the paste all over the trimmed fillet and allow to sit for ten minutes. Meanwhile line a roasting dish with parchment/non-stick paper and place the fillet on top. Roast in a 220 degree (180 degree fan) oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove from the oven and place the fillet onto a plate. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 2cm slices. Arrange on a serving plate and pour the tray juices over the top.