Home for the Holidays – Panela Pork Loin
Area Chefs Share Seasonal Favorites
Viviana Acevedo, the owner of Panela, a Colombian restaurant in Lowell, says there is a long tradition in her native country of families getting together for communal meals during the holiday season.
She has continued that custom with a twist: “We want to remember the traditional food of Colombia, but also work with food that is available here.”
For her family, that means a pork loin in panela (unrefined whole cane sugar) sauce. She uses panela in almost everything in her restaurant, she says, and in Colombia it’s an everyday product used to sweeten coffee and many other foods and drinks.
Though typical Colombian family meals this time of year would lean more toward soups and tamales, Acevedo says her sister-in-law first prepared the pork loin some years ago, and now it has become their favored seasonal dish.
PANELA PORK LOIN
5 pounds pork loin
200 grams ground panela
100 grams butter
3 tablespoons salt
1 Spanish onion
2 pints golden berries (also known as cape gooseberries or uchuva)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt the pork loin, sear in a hot pan with oil, remove from the heat when golden brown.
Place in a large roasting pan, cover with aluminum foil, and cook at 350 F for an hour and a half until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F.
Remove from the pan.
Add the diced onions to the same pan used for searing the pork. When the onions are translucent, add the golden berries, panela, butter, and juices from the pork loin.
Slice the pork loin and serve with sauce. Garnish with scallions.