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Bacon. Whiskey. Chocolate. Based on my latest kitchen endeavors, I’ve found that these three ingredients are universally appealing to just about everyone, and especially when used together. I used to be a clear liquor sort of girl that scrunched her nose in the face of brown liquor, but then I started watching How I Met Your Mother and decided that Robin was the kind of girl I wanted to be and the rest is history. Simon suggested this dish to me, and I was like, fuck yeah! Let’s do this!

I trawled the Internet and found this Food Network recipe, but decided to use pork instead of beef. The pork ended up tender and juicy because it was baked instead of pan-fried like the steak would have been. We also substituted cognac for whiskey because that’s all there was available, and cognac, being a spirit distilled from wine, gave the gravy a more delicate flavor than whiskey would have. The gravy is really, really tasty, and the copious amounts of heavy cream and bacon makes it better. It’s not a terribly complicated recipe, and it’s certainly restaurant-worthy. Try it!

Cocoa-Rubbed Pork Loin with Bacon Whiskey Gravy
Adapted from Food Network
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients
For the pork:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
2 1-pound boneless pork loin
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

For the gravy:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whiskey (I used cognac)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves (I omitted this)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Make the pork loin: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the pork loin and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes. Distribute butter on pork loin and bake in a pan for 30-40 minutes.

Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat; if the alcohol ignites, let the flames die out. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

When pork loin is done, transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.