Pepper Power Propels Pork


There's no substitute for the pungent bite and warmth of pepper. Black pepper is made from sun-dried berries. Milder than black pepper and preferred in light-colored dishes are white peppercorns, produced by hulling dried ripe pepper berries.

Green peppercorns, prepared from immature berries, are packed in brine or water or freeze-dried. Their tangy astringency is fundamental to tartar sauce, and they are often combined with white or black pepper in fish and meat dishes.

Good accompaniments for this simple but aristocratic dish are sauteed potatoes and barely tender steamed asparagus or snow peas.

Pork With Peppercorn Sauce

Serves 4

1 large navel orange

1 Valencia orange, for juicing

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, sliced 1/2 inch thick

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

1 teaspoon green peppercorns, drained and rinsed

1 cup beef stock, or canned low-salt beef bouillon

parsley or watercress, for garnish

Remove zest from navel orange, reserving orange. Sliver zest. Blanch zest in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. During final minute of boiling, drop unpeeled Valencia orange into water to warm it and yield the maximum amount of juice. Drain zest and Valencia orange in strainer. Squeeze Valencia orange; you will need about 1/3 cup juice. In a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Stir in sugar until it melts and mixture turns golden. Add orange juice and zest and cook over low heat until sauce is thick. Reserve sauce.

Lower heat, add green peppercorns to skillet, and crush them with the back of a spoon. Add stock. Turn up heat to high and, stirring constantly, rapidly reduce liquid to 1/3 cup. Add reserved orange sauce and more salt and black pepper to taste; reduce heat to a simmer and cook 2 more minutes.

Cut remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small pieces and, with pan off heat, swirl piece by piece into skillet. Add any juices from pork to sauce. Place orange sections in sauce. Nap pork with sauce and orange sections and garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

Pub Date: 05/09/99

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