Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

I have recently discovered a new favorite show on the Food Network: Heartland Table. There have only been a handful of episodes thus far (maybe 6 or 7 total) but every time I see an episode, I want to make EVERYTHING, immediately. I basically watch the episode, drool a lot, and then run to the Food Network website to pin every single recipe. Makes for a nice little Saturday morning.

This is the first recipe I ever made from that show, and I’ve made it a couple times since. It requires a bit of time standing over the stove, but it’s pretty simple… and the smell of that thyme- and garlic-rubbed pork roasting is so intoxicatingly fantastic, you’ll dream about it at night.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches
adapted from here
enough for 8 sandwiches, with pork left over

For the pork:
one 3-pound pork loin, fat cap left on
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup very coarsely ground pepper
canola oil, for searing

For the basting sauce:
5 T butter
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T chopped fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, grated
remaining pepper from the pork crust

For the sandwich spread:
1/2 cup mayo
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
zest and juice of half a lemon
one large garlic clove, grated

For the sandwiches:
8 pitas (or wrap of choice), lightly toasted/warmed
sandwich spread (above)
thinly sliced pork
arugula
1/2 cup large parmesan shavings

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

1.) Remove the pork from the fridge about half an hour before you’re going to cook it, to let it warm up a bit. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, and add a couple tablespoons of canola oil to the pan (while you’re at it, preheat your oven to 375°). While the pan heats, pat the pork loin dry; sprinkle it with the teaspoon of kosher salt, then cover it in the black pepper, using your hands to firmly press it on to the pork to be sure it sticks. Reserve any unused pepper for the basting sauce.

Pork Loin with Pepper, Garlic, and Thyme Crust

2.) Once the pan is hot, sear the pork on all sides, including the ends. While the pork is searing, heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, and add the butter to it. Once the butter bubbles up, add the apple cider vinegar, garlic, chopped thyme, and remaining black pepper. Remove the mixture from the heat.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

3.) When the pork has been seared and the basting sauce is ready, use a brush to baste the pork with the sauce, and then place the entire pan in the oven. Roast the pork for about 50 minutes, removing it from the oven every 10 minutes to flip it and baste it. Try not to pass out from the heavenly smell emanating from the oven.

4.) While the pork roasts, make your sandwich spread. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

5.) Remove the pork from the oven, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. If you’re planning to only use the pork cold, set it aside and allow it to cool for about an hour, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it’s thoroughly chilled. You’ll want to thinly slice the pork as you need it; keeping the loin whole will prevent the pork from drying out.

Pork Loin with Pepper, Garlic, and Thyme Crust

6.) To assemble the sandwiches: spread the warmed/toasted pitas with the mayo sauce. Layer on arugula, parmesan shavings, and very thinly sliced pork. Wrap, and enjoy!

I’m really not kidding you – the smell of this pork cooking is one of the best things you’ll ever experience in your life. And not only does it smell like heaven, but it imparts a TON of flavor into the pork (which I suppose is kind of the point). The pepper-y, garlick-y crust has a great hit of spice – next time, I think I’d try this pork on a salad filled with parmesan, some pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

You could also make this pork into a great little appetizer! Cut some grilled pitas into wedges, spread with the lemon mayo, add a couple leaves of arugula, a piece of pork, and some parmesan – then spear the whole thing with a toothpick. Best of all, it can be served at room temperature, so it can be made and assembled ahead of time.

You know that if I’m recommending cooking a giant piece of meat, it must be pretty fabulous,
Tina

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