7 September 2017

French onion pork... and a childhood favourite

Julia @Imagelicious

 

Julia’s love affair with food started about 10 years ago when she became mesmerized with the magic of baking. She cooks simple and quick food most of the time and tries to eat healthy, but doesn’t follow any of the popular diets that are so in right now. Julia loves roasting food in the oven instead of pan-frying to reduce fat in recipes. And she uses very little salt in her seasonings, as she believes there’s enough natural salt in most foods. 

Her philosophy is that with a little bit of creativity, it’s easy for anyone to cook healthy and delicious food at home.

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This French Onion Pork recipe was inspired by a childhood favourite. Back in Russia (where I am from) there was a very common recipe for a French-style beef. There were many variations of that recipe; some included mushrooms or potatoes. 

In my mom’s version, meat was covered in a layer of raw, sliced onions, then a layer of mayo, and finally a generous sprinkling of grated cheese. The origins of this dish go back to the 19th century. It was created by a French chef for a Russian ambassador to France. 

Although the French-style name has nothing to do with the traditional and famous French onion soup, it inspired me to revamp the recipe into something utterly delicious and indulgent. For starters, I decided to use an Ontario pork loin roast which I sliced into generous 1- to 1.5-inch pieces. Using Ontario pork instead of beef means that you don’t have to worry about beef drying out and getting too tough. Ontario pork will still remain moist and succulent after it’s done roasting. 

My next change to the recipe was to replace raw, sliced onions with sweet, earthy, almost jammy caramelized onions. I love adding thyme and rosemary to the onions as they caramelize. Herb aromas permeate the mixture and adds a cozy complexity to the dish. 

Lastly, I combine mayonnaise and cheese together so it’s easier to spread and add to the pork. That cheesy-mayo mixture is amazing on its own—spread it on some crusty bread and bake for 15-20 minutes to get an absolutely delicious cheesy appetizer! 

Ontario pork, caramelized onions, cheese—baked together they become a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect any time of the year. Serve it up with some simple steamed vegetables and you won’t be disappointed.

French Onion Pork

Yield: Serves 6-8 

Prep time: 20-25 minutes 

Cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs boneless pork loin
  • 6 medium onions
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar 
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1 Tbsp dry parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start by making the caramelized onions. Either by hand or using a food processor, thinly slice the onions into half circles.
  2. In a large dutch oven (or another thick-walled pot) heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil on medium heat and add the sliced onions. Add the leaves from thyme and rosemary and mix well. Cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes for about 30 minutes. After half an hour the amount of onions should reduce significantly and the onion will become lightly brown. 
  3. Continue cooking, stirring often to ensure the onions don't start burning at the bottom. The mixture will turn a dark caramel colour and reduce to about 1 cup of jammy, sweet caramelized onion. This process should take about another 30 minutes or so. You may need to reduce the heat to low and increase it a few times. 
  4. While the onions are caramelizing (next step) preheat the oven to 400 F and make the cheesy-mayo mixture. In a medium bowl, combine the mayo with grated cheddar, dry parsley, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Slice the pork into 8 pieces about 1- to 1.5-inches thick and place onto a large baking sheet.
  6. Spread the caramelized onion evenly over each piece of pork and then top the onion with the mayo-cheese mixture.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160 F.

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