Guilt-Free Roast Pork and Pear Salad

Perfect Pork and Pear Salad

Guilt-Free Pork and Pear Salad

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One of the real joys of live-streaming cooking is answering viewer challenges. Experimenting and researching food combinations I’d not previously considered has taught me a great deal about how food and the human body works. I get to play .. and learn in the process. Were it not for one such challenge, I may just have saved my German Volkhorn bread for toast .. and Leberwurst and Walnußkase .. anyway (*cough*) I’d never have discovered this gem. The Pork is nice, especially with roasted pears, but the stuffing is a whole ‘nother level of bliss. Rich, nutty and satisfying, without blowing my blood sugar through the roof. Definitely try this at home 🙂

The challenge was to provide a diabetic friendly menu, so my first consideration was The Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load of all of the ingredients. The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how fast they increase blood glucose (i.e. “blood sugar”) levels measured against pure glucose (100).  A GI lower than 55 is considered “low”. But wait, there’s more!! If you have one of the many types of diabetes, are pre-diabetic or watching your weight, the GI of foods is the start of your journey. It doesn’t tell you how your blood sugar will be impacted once you metabolise the food, which is partly determined by how much carbohydrate is in an individual serving. For example; watermelon looks to be a food to avoid given its high GI (80) however, it contains very little carbohydrate. To get the full picture, you need to know both how quickly the food makes glucose enter the bloodstream, and how much glucose it will deliver. Enter “glycemic load”, a wonderful bit of math multiplying the grams of a carbohydrate in a serving by the glycemic index, then dividing by 100. A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low (20+ is the “naughty” score for insulin dependent diabetics). This equation means our forbidden watermelon has  GL of 5, putting it firmly back on the menu. For the purposes of this challenge I have stuck to foods that have the lowest Glycemic Load that I could manage

Resting the meat for 20 minutes makes it easier to carve

Resting the meat for 20 minutes makes it easier to carve


Bread for the stuffing; White (wheat flour) bread has an average GI of 75 and a GL of 11.  This is an average .. a bagette can go as high as GI 90/ GL 15 .. and some bagels have a GL of 27!! Packaged stuffing pre-mix is not much better with an average GI 75/GL 15. As pork carries rich, earthy, flavours very well I first considered whole wheat bread (GI 69/GL9) then decided to punch the flavour with German Volkhorn (literally “whole grain”) or Pumpernickel.  Not only are these sourdoughs delicious, the whole-milled rye grain flour makes them highly nutritious. Best of all they score GI 41-60 and a meagre GL 5 – 7. A good dark rye sourdough has similar scores

2 slices of a local Volkhorn bread yielded 1½ cups breadcrumbs.

Meat, Eggs and most raw tree nuts (including macadamias and pine nuts) have a GI/GL of zero because they are primarily protein.  I cook the pork in the skin to keep the meat moist and succulent. Trimming the skin and sub-cutaneous fat off after cooking is a nod to my inner health-monitor. I choose roasting portions of pork leg roast because it’s very lean and easy to remove the bone. Pork shoulder is also acceptable, but you’ll need to buy a bigger piece of meat to allow for the higher proportion of bone .. and multiple bones make it harder to get a nice neat “pocket” for the stuffing

I included macadamia oil because it reinforces the delicious nuttiness of the stuffing, however a good olive oil is an acceptable substitute.

Pears taste very sweet, especially when caramelised BUT boast GI 44/GL 4 (actually lower than most apples). I have chosen to add them as an alternative to apple sauce because their sweetness balances out the very earthy pork and stuffing.

Vegetables; cucumber, capsicum (bell peppers), the celery family, leafy greens, fresh asparagus, squash, pumpkin all contain very small (if any at all) amounts of carbohydrates, so they have GL scores around zero. Even starchy vegetables like carrots, peas and beans have GI around 50 and GL around 4. You can eat as much of these as you like without troubling your conscience. The exception to this are potatoes and sweet potatoes which come in at GI 70 – 85 /GL 21-22 even when plain boiled. It’s even worse once you bake them. Traditionally baked Russet potatoes have a whopping GI 111/GL 33 (no, that’s not a typo and yes, I didn’t think that was possible either). Sorry guys, make extra stuffing instead.

Serves 6

  • 1.5kg/3lbs boneless pork leg roast
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large sprigs fresh sage OR 1 Tbsp dried sage
  • ½ cup raw macadamia nuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup raw pine nuts
  • 2 slices Volkhorn/Pumpernickel/Dark Rye bread OR 1½ cups dark rye breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp macadamia oil OR olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 3 firm pears (I use Corella or Duchess)
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil OR herb infused oil
  • 6 – 8 cups mixed low carb vegetables to taste (such as carrots, cucumber, leafy greens, celery, capsicum)

Preheat oven to 230ºC/450ºF. Cut 4 – 6 lengths of kitchen twine long enough to go comfortably around the pork and tie a knot

If your pork still has bone/s, the first step is to remove it/them. With a very sharp fillet knife, cut a long slit into the pork, along the line of the bone/s. Remove the bone/s keeping the meat as intact as possible and forming a”pocket” for the stuffing. Cut a few slits into the skin taking care not to go through the fat layer into the meat. This allows the skin to contract and form perfect crackle. If you’ve got shoulder pork; try to get the butcher to do this step 🙂

Peel and finely chop the onion.

Peel and crush the garlic.

Finely chop the sage.

Either process the macadamias in a food processor until they are in small pieces or crush them with a mortar and pestle. I measure the chopped nuts rather than whole kernels.

Place the bread into a food processor and pulse to get breadcrumbs. You don’t need to be too fussy about this, as larger crumbs make for better texture in the stuffing. Alternatively, tear the bread and crumble by hand.

Whisk eggs lightly.

In a large basin, mix together onion, garlic, sage, nuts and breadcrumbs. Stir in the eggs until the stuffing is well mixed.

Push the stuffing mixture into the “pocket” in the pork meat.

Thread pieces of kitchen twine under the pork at 2.5cm/1¼” intervals. Working from the largest end towards the knuckle, pull each piece of twine tight and tie it off to keep the “pocket” closed. Place the pork into a large roasting tray.

Brush the oil evenly onto the skin of the pork. I find it easier to (effectively) give the pork a “massage” to ensure the oil is worked into the skin.

Sprinkle with salt and fennel seed. I like to crack the seed with a mortar and pestle first, but this is optional.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cut the pears in half lengthways. Brush the cut side with a little of the vinegar, reserving the rest for salad dressing.

Lower the oven temperature to 180ºC/360ºF. Place the pears into the roasting tray with the pork and bake for a further 1 hour or until the meat juices run clear.

Rest the pork in a warm place 15 – 20 minutes while you prepare the salad.

Whisk the olive oil into the remaining vinegar. Arrange the salad vegetables on one side of a large platter and drizzle dressing over the top.

Slice the roasted pears and arrange over the center of the platter.

Remove the skin and fat from the pork, slice into generous chunks and arrange over the sliced pears. (This way you scoop up pear with the meat)

Any leftover stuffing goes down the other side of the meat. Present the platter and gracefully accept the applause.






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