Cinnamon is one of those spices which is grossly underused in savoury cooking – we all know the familiar taste of a posh Autumnal coffee with cinnamon spicing, or Christmas baked goods offering a warming feeling inside. This delightfully snappy bark often appears as part of a spice mixtures of food from the subcontinent too, but it so rarely gets its chance to shine on its own. Well, that time has come to an end. Combined with the saltiness of the pork and a little drizzle of honey, the cinnamon takes on a more subtle effect – a background warmth to accompany the tender meat. The cut here – pork fillet (tenderloin to some international readers) is surprisingly cheap compared to its beef equivalent, with the fillet I used here setting me back only £3. Even with fairly generous portions it could easily have fed four people.
The parsnip purée (presented here as an appropriately cheffy smear) balances the sweet, spiced pork with a creamy, savoury backing. Parsnip has a delicate flavour that can easily be lost among its contemporaries on a roast dinner, but here it comes out with the help of a little cream and garlic. When the two elements meat the taste buds together they tessellate beautifully into a dignified, gourmet offering.
The other brilliant aspect to all of this is how exceptionally easy it is to put together. Barely a few minutes active work and a tiny bit of waiting and you have a wonderfully impressive looking meal for any third date.
- Pork Fillet (tenderloin)
- 1-2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2-3 tbsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp each Salt and Pepper
- 1 medium sized parsnip per portion
- 50ml cream per portion
- A few cloves of garlic
- Runny Honey
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Mix together the cinnamon, most of the oil, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic and the salt and pepper in a small bowl, then using a pastry brush (or your hands), rub it over the outside of the pork. Place in the centre of a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Fry a few more cloves of garlic (chopped) in a little bit of oil for a minute or so – JUST enough to take off the edge, but don’t let it burn.
- Peel and boil the parsnips for 15 minutes until very soft. Drain and place the parsnips, garlic and cream in a blender (lid off to let the steam escape). Blend until smooth and check the consistency is to your liking. If it seems a little thick or the parsnips aren’t catching on the blade, add a little more cream or some water, a tiny bit at a time. If it seems too runny, transfer to a pan and cook for 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- When the pork is ready, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- To serve, place a very generous dollop of the purée near the edge of the plate, then run the back of the spoon through it in a swooping motion. Slice the pork and gently lay in the valley you have created and then drizzle on a little honey. I served mine with a few dollops of dark, blackcurrant jam and some wilted spinach.