Does the sound of Pork Steak with Persimmon Puree make you hungry? Me too! Once again, my good friend Paul from the Varmints Podcast has asked me to develop a recipe to accompany the latest episode: Pigs! So like the Rabbit and Bison recipes I did earlier this year to accompany their respective Varmints episodes, now you can learn all about the animal, and then make a delicious recipe out of them! I’m sick, huh? 😉 You know you love it.
Pork has been a beloved food in the United States since before we were even called the United States. Humans as a whole have been in love with pork for thousands of years: the earliest known domestication of pigs from wild boars is around 9,000 BC in what is present day Turkey. By 1500 BC Europe was raising domesticated pigs and the Romans themselves developed separated breeds for lard and bacon, respectively. By the 1500s AD, Celts in the North of Europe were developing large, well-muscled pigs for meat while those living in Iberia (the landmass that is now Spain and Portugal) were focusing on smaller, fattier pigs for lard.
In fact, we have Spain to thank for our love of pork in America: Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto brought 200 pigs with him when he landed in what is now Florida in 1539. Those 200 pigs bred like rabbits and now we actually have a problem with wild pigs being considered a nuisance animal in many states. It just means we never have to worry about eating too much pork, right?!
So how did Pork Steak with Persimmon Puree come about? Well obviously since the recipe accompanies the Pig episode of Varmints, it had to start with pork!
My favorite cut of pork is pork shoulder, because it contains light and dark meat and is marbled with delicious veins of fat that melt during the slow cooking process. Ribs are delicious too, but don’t make for an easy weeknight meal. So when I want something flavorful, juicy and easy to cook in under 30 minutes, I grab a pork rib end cut (also known as a blade end roast). This is the part of the loin that is closest to the shoulder, so it’s a bit tougher than the delicate tenderloin, but much more flavorful. This cut is generally best for slow roasting, but when the piece is small enough and it’s cooked to a nice medium (despite popular belief, you’re vastly more likely to die from a lightning strike than to catch non-fatal trichinosis – there were only 22 pork-related cases of trichinosis in the US between 2008 and 2012) and sliced thin, it’s quite tender.
Persimmons are a delicate, sweet fruit sold seasonally in late autumn/early winter. They’re a bold orange color and the fruit has caramel notes. There are two varieties most common in the US: fuyu and hachiya. Fuyu, also known as Sharon fruit, are squat like a beefsteak tomato and can be eaten while still firm. Hachiya, however, need to be ready to collapse with ripeness or else they’re incredibly astringent and unpleasant to eat. I’m going to be 100% up front with you here: my hachiya were not quite ripe enough when I made this dish. It gave the puree a slightly chalky texture (hey I’m NOT perfect, people) but the flavor was spot on. To continue my honesty trend, I originally intended the persimmon puree to be a gastrique sauce, but there’s so much pectin in persimmons it gelled to thick to be a true sauce, so puree it became!
The Recipe: Pork Steak with Persimmon Puree
This recipe is ridiculously simple. I spiced the pork simply with salt, black pepper and urfa biber, a Turkish chili powder. You can use any chili powder you prefer, but the urfa biber has rich fruity notes and is more complex than the little bottle you get at the supermarket with the red cap. As you can see I used Himalayan Pink Salt, but any coarse salt will suffice. This is just what I had on hand.
I simply mixed the spices together and sprinkled it on to both sides of the meat, pressing it in with my fingers so it would stick well.
As I mentioned earlier, the persimmon puree was originally supposed to be a gastrique. Simply put, it’s a basic sauce that combines vinegar, sugar and a flavoring agent to make a simple sweet and sour sauce. My gastrique (read: puree) contained simply white wine vinegar, honey and diced persimmon.
I just diced the persimmon, skin and all (remember if you’re using hachiya it should feel like a water balloon and be much softer than it appears in my photos) and added it to the pan that contained the honey and vinegar. I simmered it for about 30 minutes, give or take, then used my stick blender to puree it smooth. It was slightly sweet, slightly tart, with a faint caramel note from the persimmon, and it was a lovely golden color. Due to the pectin in the persimmon, this thickened a LOT as it sat.
While the persimmon was simmering, I grilled the pork over medium heat until rare. Feel free to cook yours to whatever temperature you desire.
I served my Pork Steak with Persimmon Puree with a seasoned potato and roasted brussels sprouts. The succulent pork paired perfectly with the sweet and sour persimmon puree.
Want to make it yourself? Here’s the recipe!