From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I made a last minute change to our dinner menu on Thanksgiving Day. I originally planned to do a cider brined pork loin, but as the various elements of the supper came together I realized I didn't have the room to store or bake the apples that make the dish so special. Fortunately, pork is very forgiving, so I decided to go with a recipe for a fennel and sage rubbed loin that first appeared in Sunset magazine over a decade ago. Pork roasted in this manner is delicious, but I have a couple of suggestions to share with those of you who are adventurous enough to give this very simple recipe a try. I marinate pork roasts for at least 8 hours in a salt and sugar brine to assure the meat remains moist as it bakes. I've included instructions for making the brine with tonight's post, should you want to give it a try. I know from experience that it will enormously improve the taste and texture of the pork and guarantee a moist roast. I highly recommend brining the loin prior to roasting. My other suggestion has to do with cooking time. My family likes their pork moist and pink, so I always cook it to 140 degrees and then remove it from the oven. I have found that the 2-1/4 hours recommended in this recipe will produce a dry roast. In order to avoid that, I begin to check the interior temperature of the meat when it has been in the oven for 1-3/4 hours. I strongly recommend you use a meat thermometer and pull the roast from the oven when its interior temperature reaches 140 degrees. My holiday roast was a 6 pound double loin and it was ready in less than 2 hours. It is also important to tent the roast with foil and let it sit for 15 minutes before carving. The drippings from this roast are delicious, but they are not copious enough to make a gravy, so don't plan on serving gravy dependent sides with the roast. The rub for this roast has attitude and it will not appeal to peckish eaters, but those who love well seasoned meat will be in the foodie version of 7th heaven. Here is how the roast is made.
Double Pork Loin Roast with Fennel and Sage...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Sunset magazine
1 fat-trimmed, boned, tied double pork loin roast (4-3/4 to 5 lb)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
About 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse pork and pat dry.
2) In a food processor (a mini model works best), blender, or mortar with pestle, coarsely grind or crush fennel seeds with sage, peppercorns, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Rub fennel-seed mixture evenly over pork, tucking some into crevice where roasts join.
3) Set meat on a rack in a 9- to 10-inch by 13- to 15-inch rimmed pan. Bake until a thermometer inserted in center of roast reaches 140 degrees F, about 2-1/4 hours..
4) Transfer roast to a platter; let rest in a warm place for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan drippings. Add chicken broth to pan; scrape bottom to release browned bits. Set pan over high heat and stir until boiling. Pour any juices accumulated on platter into pan. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a small pitcher. Salt to taste.
6) Slice meat and serve with pan juices. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves crumbled
1 cup hot water
3 cups cold water
To make brine: Combine salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add 1 cup hot water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add 3 cups cold water, thyme, pepper, sage and bay leaves. Whisk to combine. Pour into a resealable zip top bag; add pork and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
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