The first time I cooked Ibérico pork in London was around 2001, when I was working with the chef David Eyre. When I described it to him, he thought I was crazy – medium rare pork?! Once he tried it though, he put it on the menu and it became a favourite at the restaurant. If you are not using Ibérico pork, make sure to cook the fillet for 10-15 minutes longer until it is cooked all the way through.
I first created this recipe for a collaboration with my friends at Cinco Jotas. Whenever I meet my dear friend Maria Castro, I always have to cook this for her.
1 × 800g pork tenderloin, preferably Ibérico
150ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50ml sherry vinegar
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
½tbs ground cumin
1tsp sweet smoked pimentón de la Vera
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
For the pears and hazelnuts
3 ripe comice pears, peeled, cored and finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
50g skin-on hazelnuts, toasted
Fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
Place a large frying pan over a high heat. Rub the loin in a little oil and season well. Sear the loin on all sides, around 4-5 minutes, until caramelised, then lift out of the pan and place in a deep glass or ceramic dish.
Mix the oil, vinegar, thyme, cumin, pimentón and garlic together in a small bowl, then pour over the pork. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least eight hours.
Bring the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving, so it comes to room temperature.
When almost ready to serve, gently toss the pears in a bowl with the lemon juice.
Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the liquid, and cut into 1cm slices. Place the slices onto individual plates or a sharing platter with the pear and toasted hazelnuts and spoon over the reserved pork marinade. Top with fresh thyme leaves and serve.