Two eliminations last week! That was rough to watch. I always thank my lucky stars that each time I create a dish on here that I’m not subject to elimination. Just public scrutiny, I suppose…

I have had a relatively stressful week, so was looking forward to recreating a stress-free dish this week. Roast pork with apples and a pig’s ear salad. I could definitely pull this off! While I was at the Kingsland Farmers gathering my ingredients for this week’s dish, I stumbled upon a vegetable called parsley root. At first I thought, ‘Is this a parsnip?’ But, then I noticed a large disclaimer underneath the parsley root sign saying: ‘These are NOT parsnips!’ Ha, ha. Ok then! I thought they’d make a nice addition to the puree, so I picked some up. Tasting one raw, its flavour was somewhere in-between that of a parsnip and celery root. Very interesting.

 Taking the Challenge Home - Brasserie Restaurant

I did have some trouble locating pig’s ears. The market’s pork vendor, Spragg’s Meat Shop (where I bought my pork loin for a previous week’s challenge), needed a week’s notice for pig’s ears orders. Since I’m not a regular devourer of pig’s ears, I was unsure where else to try and source them. Thank god for Twitter! After posting my 140-character equivalent of a culinary bat signal, local chef Cam Dobranski came to my rescue. His restaurant, Brasserie, is actually the sister restaurant of Muse (Xavier Lacaze’s restaurant). The more you know!

I swung by Brasserie and was given two lovely and floppy ears. The pig’s ears I ‘borrowed’ had already been cured and braised, so all I had to do was give them a nice, thin slice and crisp them up in a pan. If you’ve never tasted pig’s ear before, it’s kind of like extra crispy bacon. They add a great crunchy texture to salads and is one of those things I like to describe as ‘oddly delicious.’ Bet you can’t eat just one!

 Taking the Challenge Home - Chopped Pig Ears

Once the pig’s ears were all fried up, the rest of the dish preparations went smoothly. I gave the pork a simple rub and roasted it off in the oven. In the meantime, I made the root vegetable puree out of potatoes and the aforementioned parsley root, along with some roasted garlic. Really, roasted garlic makes everything better, doesn’t it?

Against my better judgment, I allowed my friend Peter to be in the kitchen with me again this week while preparing the dish. Luckily, he was well-behaved. Since I know he likes to add maple syrup to things (such as my duck liver ice cream from two weeks ago), I let him add the syrup to the apples as I sautéed them.

Taking the Challenge Home - Peter Eating

All and all, the roast pork dish turned out delicious; a perfect Sunday dinner kind of a plate.

In other news, this coming week, I’ll be cooking my Top Chef Canada recreation with season one winner, Dale Mackay at his restaurant, Ensemble, in Vancouver!


Roasted Pork Loin and Crispy Pig Ear Salad with Maple-Roasted Apples

Taking the Challenge Home - Roasted Pork Loin


Yield: Serves 5-6
Total cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


Roasted Pork Loin
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 lb boneless pork loin
Salt and pepper
Root Vegetable Puree
2 ½ cups potatoes (1” cubed)
1 cup parsley root (1” cubed)
½ bulb roasted garlic
2/3 cup cream
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Maple Sauteed Apples
1 tbsp butter
1 pink lady apple (cored, halved, thinly sliced)
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp cinnamon
Pig’s Ear Salad
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 pig’s ears (braised and smoked)
3 cups arugula
½ cup red onion (thinly sliced)
1 lemon (juiced, zested into thin strips)
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
olive oil
Roasted Pork Loin
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the mixture onto the top and sides of the roast. Place roast into a prepared baking dish, season with salt and pepper and bake for 40 minutes. After the roast has baked, turn oven to broil and cook for another 10 minutes to caramelize the top. Let the meat sit for a few minutes before slicing into.


Root Vegetable Puree
Place the potatoes and parsley root in a medium-sized pot of liberally salted water. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Strain the vegetables and combine with remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and return to pot to keep warm on the stove until ready to serve.


Maple Sauteed Apples
Melt butter in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the apple slices, syrup and cinnamon to the pan and let cook until very tender, about 8 minutes. Keep warm on stove until ready to serve.


Pig’s Ear Salad
Coat the bottom of a large pan with grapeseed oil and turn to medium-high heat. Julienne the pig’s ears and cook until very, very crispy. Remove from heat and place onto paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Once the ears have cooled slightly, combine together in a mixing bowl with remaining salad ingredients.


Spoon some of the vegetable puree onto the plate, top with some sliced pork loin, then maple apples and, finally, a handful of the pig’s ear salad! Enjoy!