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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Roast Pork Loin with Pickled Caramelized Guavas and a Mexican Market

Roast Pork Loin with Pickled, Caramelized Guavas

Roast Pork Loin with Pickled Caramelized Guavas and a Mexican Organic Market
by Victoria Challancin

For me, guavas = memories.  So many memories...memories that span a lifetime.  There were those gooey guava fights in my youth with my cousins on my Italian Grandfather's farm, picking the fruit and making the guava jelly that my Mom put up each year for family and friends alike, and in later years the perfumed scent of a guava-laden Mexican ponche wafting from my kitchen or the kitchen of friends at holiday time.  Yep, I love guavas.  Can I separate the actual taste from the olfactory barrage that accompany the smell of guavas?  Probably not.  But then, does it matter?  Anyway I look at it, guavas are a great food item, memories or not.

A Little History of Guavas and a Few Facts

It is believed that the guava, a plant in the Myrtle family (Psidium guajava), originated in the area that is ow Central America and Mexico.  Like other indigenous food items like chiles, guavas spread throughout the tropical world two ways:  by man (Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the guava to the East Indies from where it spread to India, Asia, and Africa) and birds and mammals (seed-laden bird droppings account for a good bit of guava's physical dispersion).  Today guavas are cultivated throughout tropical America, Asia, and parts of Africa, and guavas represent one of Mexico's biggest fruit crops.

Culinary uses for guavas:
Wikipedia tells us that guava fruit is eaten in Hawaii with soy sauce and vinegar, with the occasional addition of sugar and black pepper.  In Pakistan and India, raw fruit is typically eaten with a pinch of salt and pepper and sometimes cayenne powder and/or masala.  In the Philippines ripe guava is used in a sour soup or stew called sinigang.  In Asia, the fresh fruit is often dipped in preserved prune powder or salt, and in India it is frequently sprinkled with tart red rock salt.  In Mexico, guavas are a main ingredient in the Christmas Punch, which is served over the holidays in almost every home as well as in the fruit paste, called  ate, which is served with cheese after a meal.  Guava shells are also a popular dessert item, often served with cheese, in Cuba and the Caribbean.

Because of the high pectin level, guavas are used to make candies, preserves, jullies, jams, marmalades, and the juice is used for aguas frescas, which I wrote about here.  

Guava leaves also appear in various dishes such as an infusion found in Asia and in South America, which is considered medicinal.  The leaves and wood are also used in smoking to produce a unique scent to the items being smoked.

Guavas in culture:  The Taino, pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, believed that the spirits of the dead hid away during the day and came out at night to eat guavas.  And in Ybor City, Florida, there is an annual "Guavaween" event celebrated during the last of October to celebrate the advent of the guava.

Properties:  Rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C (four times the amount as an orange), folic acid, and the minerals potassium, copper, and manganese, guavas are an amazingly healthy food.  The pulp and the peel are a good source of natural antioxidants and dietary fiber, with the antioxidant properties of the skin being ten times higher than that of the pulp (see here for more information).

Medicinal uses of guavas:  In folk medicine, guava leaves are used as a remedy for diarrhea when brewed as an infusion.  The bark is considered antimicrobial as well as astringent.  Teas have been used in such places as Trinidad as a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, and fever.  

Guavas Leaf Extract is being touted as effective in the following with research information cited here:
  • Inflammation
  • Acne
  • Cough 
  • Diarrhea
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol 

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But regardless of health properties, or of those guava-eating, night-dwelling spirits, or even the medicinal benefits...sometimes you just need a good recipe for using guavas, and here it is:

           Roast Pork Loin with Pickled Caramelized Guavas
                                 (Recipe from Bon Appétit via Yummly Recipes)

Pickled caramelized guavas:
3 pounds fresh guavas, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
6 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
15 whole peppercorns
3 whole cloves

9 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup (or more) beef broth
1/4 cup sour orange juice or lime juice
1 5 1/2-pound bone-in pork roast or boneless

For the guavas:  Bring all ingredients to boil in heavy large saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 30 minutes.  (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.)  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the pork:  Place Place first 5 ingredients in mortar; mash into paste with pestle.  Stir in 1/3 cup broth and citrus juice.  Transfer marinade to large resealable plastic bag.  Add pork and seal.  Refrigerate 12 to 14 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Transfer pork and marinade to large roasting pan.  Roast until thermometer inserted into center registers 145 degrees F, basting occasionally with pan juices and adding more broth by the 1/4 cupfuls, if dry, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Transfer pork to platter; let stand 20 minutes before serving.  Slice pork and serve with juices and guavas alongside.

Cook's Notes:  I made this dish in a cooking class this week using a 4-lb pork loin.  Because we didn't have enough time, we only marinated the meat for about an hour, which yielded a strong flavor anyway.  This is a terrific, garlicky marinade which would be great with chicken as well--as would the guavas!  I did add some dried "fruits of the forrest," just because I had them.  We used a tomato corer to remove the seeds, but I must have been dreaming of the larger guavas in Florida, whose seeds aren't quite as hard.  We should have been more careful removing the seeds as they were quite hard!  We also started the roast in the oven, but to time constraints, ended up slicing it into thick slices and finishing it in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil--and it was still terrific.  You could also use pork tenderloin or chicken with this recipe.  The end result?  I loved it and could eat the guavas on toast!


San Miguel de Allende's Weekly Organic Market
The locavore/organic movement has thankfully come to San Miguel in a big way.  The small farmers of the area are beginning to produce and market goods that are chemical-free to sell locally.  Once a week there is an organic market where vendors come with there wares.  How many products can you recognize?  My mouth waters just looking at the goodies in these photos, some for large farms or co-ops, others from mom-and-pop gardens.  

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


Hotly Spiced said...

Oh Victoria, what a beautiful recipe. Your pork loin with all the fruits around it looks so special and inviting. I'm sure it was well appreciated by all you shared it with.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fantastic looking dish and those markets are just packed of items that I haven't really used before! :D Loved reading about how each country uses guavas too :)

Ben said...

Guavas, after mangoes, are my favorite fruit and I love to make salsas with them. Great market, too!

Spicie Foodie said...

I love guavas but sadly can't find them here, in Europe. Your pork sounds delicious and I really enjoyed the photos of the mercado. Thanks for participating in the YBR :)