When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw a lovely bunch of collard greens and I just couldn't resist getting them. While collard greens are common in many countries including Brazil, Portugal, Africa, Spain, India, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia, in these here parts, it's pretty much synonymous with the southern United States. Just the mere mention of collard greens can bring one to uncharacteristically say things like, 'these here parts', 'sweet baby Jesus', and 'slap your mama'! On that same excursion to the grocery store, I disovered that pork loin center cut roasts were on sale and I picked up a beatiful 1 and 1/2 lb. roast for $5.54. I didn't know what I was gonna do with it, but I have a hard time walking away from a good bargain, particularly in the grocery store.
Yesterday, when considering what to make for dinner last night, I knew I had to do something with the collard greens before they became all wilty and blah, and then there was that pork loin center roast....looking at me, eager to see what direction I was going to take it in. Once again, yes, I know....it's a tad weird that I feel that food speaks to me but in it's own little way, using it's own little language, it does. You're just gonna have to trust me on that. And yesterday, it was saying, 'what're y'all gonna do with us?'. I'm sure there are probably a tonne of non-Southern ways to cook collard greens, but as it stands at this moment, I don't know of any. Collard greens equals Southern fare to me. Besides....the pork loin roast said 'y'all'...I just HAD to go in a Southern direction!
I figured my 1.5 lb. center cut pork loin roast was going to take about 45 minutes or so to cook. I wanted to season it and give it a nice 'crust'. Looking in my spice cupbaord I pulled out dry thyme, dry mustard, ground allspice, garlic powder, chile powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and brown sugar. I combined 1 Tbsp. each of brown sugar, dry thyme and dry mustard and added 1 and 1/2 tsp each of ground allspice and garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chile powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne and 3/4 tsp of ground cumin. I cut up a red onion into thin wedges and then quartered up some baby portobellos. I tossed the red onion and mushrooms in 2 Tbsp of oil and then added in 1 Tbsp of my spice mixture and tossed them well to coat. I then rubbed the remainder of my spice mixture all over the pork loin roast. I placed the roast on strips of bacon thinking I'd wrap bacon around it. At the last moment, the urge to do a little something more before wrapping the bacon became overwhelming. I mixed together 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of grainy mustard with 1 and 1/2 Tbspp of honey and spread that all over the top of the pork loin roast before wrapping it in the bacon. I placed the roast in my roasting dish and surrounded it with the onions and mushrooms. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and cooked the pork loin for 35 minutes and then increased the heat to 375 for another 10 minutes until the bacon was cooked the way I wanted it to be.
After placing the pork loin roast in the oven, I got started on my Southern Collard Greens. I heated up a large skillet and then added in 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces. After cooking the bacon about 5 minutes, I added in about 1/2 c. of diced onion, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. While the onions were becoming transulcent, I washed the collard greens, cut out the ribs, rolled up the leaves like a big ole cigar and cut them horizontally, or 'chiffonade' if you wanna get fancy about it! I added the collard greens to the skillet with the onions and bacon, tossed them around, sprinkled in about 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning and 1/4 c. vegetable broth, then covered the pot, reduced the heat and let them simmer and wilt.
With the Louisiana Style Pork Loin roasting away and the Southern Collard Greens doing their thing, I realized I needed a starch for the plate. I opted for rice. Initially I thought about doing a dirty rice, which smacks of the south, but I didn't have sausage, chicken livers, celery or green bell pepper, so I had to improvise. I decided on making Cajun Brown Rice. First I sauteed 1/2 an onion, chopped, 1 clove of garlic, minced and 1 large carrot, finely chopped, in a little oil and seasoned with about a tsp of Cajun Seasoing. I then added in 2 cups of brown rice and let it soak up all the flavours before adding in 4 cups of vegetable broth. I brought the rice to a boil and then let it simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes. Just before serving, I added in a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped chives to add a little color.
With approximately 15 minutes left before my rice was done, the timer went off for the Louisiana Style Pork Loin Roast. I removed it from the oven, transferred it to a plate, tented it with some aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
The aroma that filled our home from this meal were incredible: bacon, Cajun seasoning, onion, garlic, thyme, mustard, allspice and cumin. Were I single, I'd probably consider putting a little rub of that combination behind my ears! The Lousisiana Style Roast Pork Loin was incredibly moist and, Sweet Baby Jesus, the juxtaposition of slightly sweet with slightly spicy made every taste bud in my mouth do the happy dance, while the Southern Collard Greens kinda made me want to smack my mama! (I'd never actually smack my mama...that would be just plain wrong...but you get where I'm going with this!).
While I did use bacon in cooking both the pork loin roast and the collard greens, I used sodium reduced bacon. Other than that, this meal is jam packed with healthy goodness, from the lean pork loin roast to the brown rice, (not to mention the cholesterol lowering collard greens), and everything in between. I estimate the cost of this meal to be under $14.00 and with enough leftovers for two lunches, that brings the total cost per portion to approximately $2.33!! While some leftovers could go to waste, others are often better than the actual meal itself - never underestimate the value of leftovers! As Paula Deen would say, "Bein' rich is having leftovers. Good leftovers make yo' tongue fly outta yo' mouth and smack yo' brains out!". Leftover Louisiana Style Roasted Pork Loin with Southern Collard Greens and Cajun Brown Rice will definitely smack yo' brains out!
Louisiana Style Roast Pork Loin, Southern Style Colalrd Greens and Cajun Brown Rice...easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!