Any excuse to use my last name in a recipe – and ‘Glaze’ really is my last name! As mentioned in my last post on nopales I am having a fun time experimenting with edible cactus including its fruit, the ‘prickly pear’ which is often called the ‘tuna’. It certainly does have meaty bright red flesh like ahi tuna. However, its flavor is nothin’ but sweet. There is practically no acidity in this fruit. It’s a sugary pink prickly hand grenade and pairs well with both sweet and savory flavors.
I slathered this pork roast with my go-to rub made up of toasted & ground: cumin, coriander, guajillo chili, and pasilla chili. Mid way through the cooking process I glazed it with a prickly pear gastrique (fruit purée reduced with vinegar & sugar) infused with fresh bay leaf. I strongly prefer fresh bay leaf if you happen to have a tree somewhere close – it is much stronger and more herbaceous than the dry version. To kick it up a notch I threw in a Thai red chili. But of course, that could be left out.
I like to provide options to my guests and on the side I served up my favorite Guajillo BBQ sauce along with pan jus which was oh so dunkable from the caramelized glaze and spices melding with the natural juices. This pork was raised on Pie Ranch and had wonderful flavor and texture from the incredible “slop” it was fed consisting of homegrown organic vegetables and extra cow & goat milk. I think some acorns were thrown into the mix too which pigs absolutely adore.
Just a reminder: prickly pears are actually VERY prickly (I found out the hard way).
They have tiny little hairs that will stick into your skin and they do not come out easily. Mostly because they are invisible so you can’t see them find them. Make sure to handle this fruit with gloves or a kitchen towel!
- 3 pound Center Cut Pork Roast
- For RubPreferably toast and grind all ingredients
- 3 Tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons ground gaujillo chili
- 1 Tablespoon ground pasilla chili
- 2 Tablespoons ground cumin seed
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander seed
- 1 Tablespoon crushed dry oregano
- For Prickly Pear Gastrique/mop
- 4 to 6 fresh prickly pear fruit
- 1 small red thai chili or jalapeno
- 1/2 cup sugar (I prefer the unrefined kind for any molasses like flavor)
- 3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (taste and adjust)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- A small bunch of fresh Bay Leaves (4-5 leaves, not dried)
- 1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients for the spice rub together and generously season pork roast. If there is a thick slab of fat on roast then, using a filet knife cut in diagonal lines in two directions down the muscle layer – but not through the mucsle – to give a diamond look. This will help the fat to render and for the spices to get in between.
Pop the pork loin into a shallow roasting pan and into a medium-hot oven at 325˚F. If there is a thick layer of fat it's a good idea to start the temp low to get all that fat rendered properly. Baste the pork roast with the prickly pear gastrique every 10 to 15 minutes and feel free to spoon over the pan drippings too. Turn the heat up to 425˚F after 25 minutes to caramelize prickly pear coating and fat. Cook the pork for 45 minutes total or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast reads 135˚F for medium-rare – it will raise 10˚'s while resting. Slice pork and serve with pan jus and guajillo BBQ sauce.
To Make The Gastrique: Carefully peel the prickly pears with a sharp vegetable peeler or pairing knife. Be sure to hold the fruit with a kitchen towel or wear kitchen gloves because they do have prickles and they are almost impossible to see. The prickles are TEEENY TINY but they HURT once they've made it into your skin.
chop the pears and put them in a small pot along with the chili, sugar, salt, bay leaves and water. Bring to a boil and reduce until the pear flesh is liquid. Strain and reduce again until thick enough to coat the back enough of a spoon. Add vinegar and cook a few minutes more. Adjust acidity to your liking!