The plant that I am most proud of in my garden is my lavender. My pride comes not from the exoticness of the flora, but the fact that I grew it from seed. Lavender, like rosemary is difficult to germinate. Now before I wow you with my horticultural aptitude, I must confess it was an accident. I totally neglected the seeds for a few months and when I went to check on them I discovered two True Lavender seedlings.
Culinarily, lavender lends itself quite easily to confectionary treats, but I wanted to explore the savory side of thing with a Provençal pork roast. The idea to use floral essences with meat came from last years Food and Wine November issue. They suggested a homage to the flavors of the South of France with a Thanksgiving menu created to highlight these delights. To accompany the roast, I could have served some braised or roasted fennel and topped the roast with lovely sauce with a hint of Pernod, but fennel is hard to find outside of Sofia and the meat was juicy, plus the family was hungry.
The herbes de Provence came entirely from the herbs in my garden, with the exception of the fennel seed. When researching the different blend rations I discovered a few hints and tips for making a successful blend. The first being, that the primary flavors of the blend are thyme and summer savory. For those of you who do not live in Bulgaria, summer savory (aka chubritza/чубрица) is the most important seasoning after salt. When you see condiments on a table, often in place of the black pepper you will see summer savory. The second point is that dried herbs work better if you are cooking for longer than 20 minutes. Fresh herbs will lose their flavor. I am not 100 percent sure that that is true, but I dried some of my fresh herbs in the oven on low heat.
Herbes de Provence:
1 1/2 tsp summer savory
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp lavender
1/4 tsp sage
Combine all of the dried spices, place in a food processor, spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind till you reach your desired texture. Be sure to break down the fennel seeds.
Herbes de Provence Crusted Roast Pork:
1 kg (2.2 lb) pork loin
5 – 6 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Combine the herbs, mustard, salt and pepper. Evenly coat the entire pork loin with the herb mixture. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or over night.
Removed the pork from the fridge about 2 hours before cooking and let come to room temperature.
Pre-heat oven to 155C (300F)
Sear meat on all sides, them roast in oven for about 40 minutes till internal temperature hits 55C (130F). Remove from oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, the temperature should raise resulting in a perfect, juicy medium rare.