Sunday, November 20, 2011
Cider-Brined Pork Loin
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Early last week, I did a test run of the recipe I developed for the cider-brined pork that I'll be serving on Thanksgiving Day. It turned out well and I thought you might like to see the results. I know that most of you firmed up your holiday menus weeks ago, but I thought you might want to keep this mildly flavored roast in mind for other occasions. It is really easy to do and I think you'll be pleased with the results. While the recipe is straightforward, some things should probably be explained. I tie the boneless pork roast into a compact cylinder to assure even cooking and add a bit of eye appeal to its final presentation. When finished, the glazed cylinder is really beautiful to look at and it is really easy to carve. To assure it browns without over cooking, I sear the meat prior to oven-roasting. I use a meat thermometer to assure the meat remains juicy and is still slightly pink when it's served. When the thermometer registers 140 degrees F, I remove the roast from the oven, tent it with foil and allow it to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. The wait time is important because the roast continues to cook while tented and its juices are set into the meat rather than lost on the carving platter. I've kept the recipe deliberately simple, but, if you like, quartered apples and onions can be roasted with the meat and served with it at the table. I'm not fond of the way that looks, so I tend to view their addition as an unnecessary complication. Not so the cider reduction. It contributes greatly to the flavor of the finished dish and assures that every slice of meat is kissed briefly with intense apple flavor. The addition of cornstarch will add sheen to the cider reduction and I recommend using it. While I given a range of time for brining the roast, its flavor is enhanced if it marinates for a full 24 hours. The meat gets mushy if it soaks too much longer than that, so resist the temptation. You also want to make sure that the pork is completely submerged while soaking in the brine. This is a lovely roast and it's perfect for those occasions when you want subtle flavors. It pairs beautifully with the apple stuffing that was featured earlier this week. I do hope you'll try this. Here's the recipe.
Cider-Brined Pork Loin...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
5 cups apple cider, divided use
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
3 fresh bay leaves torn into pieces
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups apple cider
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1 (4 pound) center-cut boneless pork loin roast
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1) To make brine: In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups cider, salt, brown sugar, bay leaves , cloves and peppercorns to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in 3 cups each water and cider and cool to room temperature.
2) Using kitchen twine, tie pork loin at 1-inch intervals to form a cylinder of uniform circumference. Place pork loin in a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag and pour in cooled cider solution. Allow meat to brine, refrigerated, for at least 8 to 24 hours.
3) Preheat conventional oven to 325 degrees F. If using a convection oven preheat to 300 degrees F.
4) To make cider reduction: Bring 2 cups cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until cider has thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup (about 15 minutes). If using cornstarch, add and stir until reduction is glossy. Set aside.
5) Remove pork from brine. Rinse and pat dry. Cut small slits in surface of meat and insert garlic slices. Season meat with rosemary, sage, salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy ovenproof skillet until oil begins to shimmer. Add pork; sear well, about 5 minutes per side, using tongs to roll meat until all surfaces are brown. Brush with cider reduction. Transfer skillet to oven and roast for 15 minutes. Brush again with cider reduction and roast for 20 minutes longer, or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Remove from oven. Remove twine and brush again with cider reduction. Tent with foil; let sit for 10 to 20 minutes minutes before slicing. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
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