15 June 2011

An Homage to Alice Waters ...

Alice Waters opened a can of worms when she began advocating for schoolyard gardens and a curriculum that incorporated food science, growth, cooking, and nutrition in schools nationwide. Our nation's rate of obesity has grown dramatically since WWII; we are a product of too many processed foods, too much time in front of the television and computers, and too little time out in the world moving around and gaining an understanding of all it takes to raise and supply the nation with food. Consequently, this trend is being reflected in our children's increased obesity and onset of diabetes in all age demographics. Alice Waters set out to propose one solution ...

Of course, Ms. Waters' values have cut right to center of corporate agriculture and she has weathered naysayers from government hacks right on down through the agribusiness system, the education system, and mainstream media that have passed her off as an elitist dilletante. BUT ... after establishing her movement, The Edible Classroom, via books, grants for schoolyard gardens, an increasing number of parent and teacher volunteers AND by gathering research data from some of the established schoolyard garden programs, it's looking like she's on the right track! Children who have a closer relationship with their fruits and veggies, begin to get it. It's satisfying to grow your own foodstuffs, it's better for you, and you gain more interest and willingness to 'eat the good stuff' if your hands have been in the dirt. Check out the video below and then, link back to parts 1 and 2 for a more complete picture of the flagship school's program.

Edible Schoolyard - Alice Water's Crusade

Hurray for Alice Waters! She deserves to be ranked as one of the most influential women in modern food society ... she also can make a mean pork loin. Chez Panisse, her restaurant, has been a magnet for those enjoying fresh simple preparations with no loss of technique or finesse. All this praise and accolade comes, though, as a result of a blogging challenge that Mary of One Perfect Bite has organized. Upon reading an article on 50 of the most influential women in the food industry, Mary thought it would be interesting to take one woman each week and prepare one of her recipes. I missed week one's homage to Julia Child, but am on board this week with Alice Waters.

I chose to duplicate her marinated pork loin recipe as an homage. I am, however, supplementing it at serving time with a beautiful apricot and cherry mostarda that I bought at an area farmer's market this past weekend. Aubrey Saxton of Merrymeeting Farm in Dublin, NH sold me a spicy sweet concoction that I have been just waiting to deck out on top of a slab of pork tenderloin. We'll be having it with fresh greens from our garden and roasted red potatoes. I think Alice Waters would enjoy this meal ...

So ... here goes. This recipe comes from Alice Water's book The Art of Simple Food. She uses a bone-in rib pork loin roast, which she partially separates from the rib framing, salts and peppers, wraps and leaves refrigerated overnight. The only adaptation I am making here is that I am using the pork tenderloin, without the rib framing. I'm using two strips of black pepper encrusted bacon to wrap the top of the loin to give the fat element that she speaks of in her recipe. That will be tied onto the lean tenderloin when it's roasting time and preserve the moisture content of the meat.

Roast Pork Loin
courtesy of Alice Waters’
The Art of Simple Food – Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

1 bone-in, 4-rib pork loin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth

1. The day before, separate the meat from the ribs, stopping about 1 inch before the end of the bones. Season the pork liberally inside and out with salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight.
2. One hour before cooking, bring the loin to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Tie the loin with cooking twine snugly in several places. Place the pork in a roasting pan, fat side up, and cook until the internal temperature registers 135 degrees, about 60 to 70 minutes, turning the loin every 20 minutes. Begin checking the internal temperature of the loin after 40 minutes.
3. Transfer the roast to a plate to rest for 20 minutes. Pour off some of the fat from the pan, place the pan over medium heat and deglaze with the red wine, scraping up the brown bits stuck to the bottom. When the wine has nearly evaporated, add the broth or 1 cup of water and the juices released from the roast while resting. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the twine and the bone from the loin, slice and serve with the sauce.

4. Enjoy the simplicity of meat, juices, and a light wine reduction.

Punchline: Alice Waters is on to something ... period. Get out there in your gardens, go visit your farmer's markets, check out the freshest and simplest, and take it from there!


  1. Alice Waters deserves to be high up in the list of influential women!!!! Her pork roast sounds delicious!

  2. Love her! I spent all afternoon and early evening in my garden! What a great blog challenge! Love the pork recipe too!

    Have a wonderful day!


  3. I have seen her on TV and flipped through the pages in the book store. This pork looks delicious and like you said the preparation easy.

  4. Pork loin is always something I've been a little afraid of ruining - but I think I'll have to give this recipe a try!

  5. Yeah, whatever happened to good, homecooked healthy food? I was wondering, what are your thoughts on Nigella Lawson?

  6. @Xinmei - Nigella is a modern phenom in cooking culture ... and maybe hasn't had the attention here in the States that she deserves. IMHO, she sits both sides of the fence. She has some of the most fantastic fresh ingredients and simple preparations, but she also markets a mean 'chocolate, butter, decadent guilty pleasure' line of recipes ... and you know what? I truly think that's okay ... as long as you are trying to balance out things in life overall. Again, IMHO, she deserves to be on this list over Paula Dean.

    Again, with the moderation thing. If you take a look at my blog ... I love the breads and cakes and cookies, but I do try to make things with lean meats, beans, and veg. The down side is that often, the baked goods photograph better and they are the ones that get all the attention... so, did I tell you what I really think?

  7. I hope that one day, I might be able to actually meet Alice Waters. I love her ideas...
    The pork loin looks really great.

  8. I'm going to try to go to Chez Panisse when I'm in SF next week. Can't wait!


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back.