Whenever my skeptical aunt was underwhelmed by somebody’s claim of having made an earth-shattering discovery, she’d make the sardonic aside “Beh! Ha fatto la scoperta di Cristoforo Colombo.” (“Eh! He made the discovery of Christopher Columbus.”) Well yesterday, which just happened to be Columbus Day, I was similarly underwhelmed by my discovery in the fridge of a pork roast that had reached its use-by date. First off, it meant that I would have to abandon the pasta recipe I had planned on for today’s post. Moreover, I had already done my shopping for the day and wasn’t up for a return trip to the market to look for any special ingredients that might be required by a pork-roast recipe.
I skimmed through some of my cookbooks, but almost every recipe I found required at least one thing I didn’t have on hand. So, I turned to Google. My trusty old search engine yielded several recipes that I could make with kitchen staples, and two recipes, in particular, were most appealing because of their simplicity. Both required similar ingredients, but differed primarily on cooking time and temperature. I therefore decided to take what I liked from each and add a few touches of my own.
The first recipe “Ultimate Garlic Pork Loin Roast,” from Dinner Then Dessert.com, was the simplest. It called for coating a 3-pound roast’s fat cap with minced garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika and then roasting it in a 375°F oven for 60-75 minutes or until it reached an internal temperature of 150°-160°F. The second recipe, more modestly titled “Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary,” from Epicurious.com, called for a well-trimmed boneless pork loin and, in place of paprika, used fresh rosemary, but employed a higher cooking temperature 400°F, a shorter cooking time, 55 minutes or 155°F internal temperature, and required turning the roast mid-way through.
What I especially liked about the first recipe was its use of the fat cap, which would baste the roast as it cooked, adding plenty of flavor and moisture to the meat. The second recipe’s use of fresh rosemary and pressed garlic, rather than minced, seemed more appealing than the first’s paprika.
I ultimately followed the first recipe’s cooking method and the second recipe’s seasoning. However, rather than just rubbing the rosemary and garlic over the roast, I made a paste of them: finely chopping the herb, grating the garlic on a rasp, and adding just enough olive oil to bring them together. Because I really like rosemary with pork, I upped the amount of it to about 2 tablespoons. I also took the first recipe’s suggestion of roasting apples along with the pork, but went for red apples rather than granny smiths and sliced them in eighths rather than quarters. Finally, along with apples, I added a sliced red onion.
My only problem came with the cooking time. My roast took 90 minutes before it looked done; when I took its temperature, it ranged from 155° to 160°. Even after resting for 5 minutes, however, the roast was deliciously moist with just a hint of pink in the middle. The roasted apples and onion made a perfect accompaniment, with their flavors enhanced by the succulence of the pork.
Roast Pork Loin with Rosemary and Garlic
4 large garlic cloves, grated on a kitchen rasp
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 2 1/2-pound boneless pork loin roast, with fat cap (not a pork tenderloin)
2 red apples, cored and sliced into eighths (I used honey crisps.)
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1. Preheat your oven to 375° degrees.
2. Combine the grated garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper with one tablespoon of the olive oil to form a thick paste.
3. Dry the pork loin and score the fat cap in a cross-hatch pattern.
4. Rub the roast all over with the herb paste, pressing most of it into the fat cap.
5. Place the sliced apples and onion to the roasting pan and toss with a tablespoon of the olive oil.
6. Place the roast, fat-side up, in the middle of the apples and onion.
7. Cook the pork for 60-90 minutes or until it has reached a temperature of 150°-160°F degrees.
8. Remove roast from the oven and let rest covered for five minutes before carving.
9. Carve into 1/3-inch slices and serve with pan juices on heated plates accompanied by the roasted apples and onion.
Wine Pairing: Dolcetto, Merlot