Wednesday, November 3, 2010
How to Make Pork Loin Roast or Secrets to the Perfect Pig
Many people who are just learning to cook (and some who have been cooking for years) shy away from cooking large pieces of meat because getting it "right" can be a bit intimidating. A perfect pork loin roast is truly a beautiful thing...but how to get it? You want a beautiful piece of pig that turns out roasted to a golden glow on the outside, but is thoroughly cooked on the inside without sacrificing that lovely juiciness. Do all of these qualities seem like the makings of an impossible recipe? Good news...you CAN make the perfect pork loin roast!
I will give you instructions as accurately as I possibly can, but you must keep a few things in mind when preparing a pork loin roast. No two pieces of meat are exactly the same. All 4-pound pork roasts are not created equal. One can be long and thin, one short and thick and the amount of fat left on the meat by the butcher varies from piece to piece. Keeping this in mind, you can still achieve the desired results, but you must be willing to "play" with the cooking times, have ample time to devote to the cooking process of the meat (at least 20-30 minutes per pound to slow cook and that's NOT exact) and be fearless to keep that pork loin roast in the oven, even when you might think it's been in there too long, until your thermometer tells you it's ready. Your new best friend is going to be a good meat thermometer. That is the surest way of getting the desired results. And, believe me...you will agree that it's worth the trying, testing and temperature-taking when you taste your perfect pig!
Start with a good cut of meat. You can purchase the size of boneless pork loin roast that you want...but all prep and cooking times are determined by the amount of meat, as well as the aforementioned factors. A boneless pork loin roast and a pork tenderloin are NOT the same cut of meat! The tenderloin has a lower fat content and is a smaller cut of pork than the pork loin roast, so it will cook differently. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask your butcher or the "head meat guy" at the grocery to help you find or select a good pork loin roast...he's there to help!
Choose a meaty pork roast, but make sure it has a nice layer of fat on one side. Do NOT trim off that fat because it is integral to the success of your meat! Put your oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Next you will season your pork.
Take 2 to 3 Tbsp. of olive oil and put it in a small bowl. Add your choice of spices and herbs to the olive oil, making sure you add enough to make a well-formed paste. You can use these, or any combination of these, to add to the olive oil: sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, rosemary (I suggest using ground or, if you have the whole, crush it in your hands before adding), thyme, oregano, sweet basil, cumin (use sparingly - cumin is a strong spice) OR Herbes de Provence (which is a lovely blend of crushed/ground bay leaves, thyme, fennel, rosemary, chervil, oregano, summer savory, tarragon, mint, marjoram and lavender - it is ALWAYS found in my kitchen and I use it along with sea salt, black pepper, basil, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin on my pork loin roast!) You want the paste to be fairly thick, but still speadable. The best way to coat the pork loin roast is to scoop the paste up with your hands and "massage" it into the meat. Make sure you coat all sides...don't forget each end of the pork loin roast.
You will need a roasting pan with a rack. If you don't have a rack, use heavy aluminum foil and crunch it up into a make-shift rack. You can crush it, then straighten it back out, forming wavy little elevations and divots and folding up the sides to catch the juices and melted fats that run off during the roasting process. Place the pork loin roast that has been coated with the olive oil/spice/herb paste FAT SIDE UP on the rack in the roasting pan, uncovered; put the roasting pan on the center oven rack and close the door.
(This post will be continued.)