Friday, December 23, 2011
Brining Pork Loin
Brining greatly improves the flavor and moisture in roast pork. For best results it needs to soak over night but not more than 48 hours, so this is a dish that needs a little planning (chops can be brined but not more than 12 hours). When it's time for another roast pork I keep an eye out for that perfect little roast and pick it up at least one day before cooking it.
A brine solution is 1 cup salt per gallon of water or 1 tablespoon per cup or 60 ml per liter and you need enough to completely immerse the meat. If you have all the time in the world you can boil water to completely dissolve the salt, then let it all cool down. If you are a little more time constrained you can use an immersion blender or hand mixer to dissolve the salt. Add a half tablespoon sugar and half a tablespoon of molasses or one tablespoon of brown sugar and finish mixing (add more for larger roasts). Trim any excess fat from the roast and score what remains. Immerse it, cover and put in the fridge overnight.
Take the roast out of the brine half an hour before cooking. Set it on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. If you use a deep pan it won't brown. Warm your oven up to 350º to 375º (larger roast, lower temperature) and set the rack in the center. Season the roast and place a few bay leaves then top with a sprig each of thyme and rosemary.
You can cut potatoes into bite size pieces and toss them with oil, salt and pepper. Spray oil into the pan and arrange the potatoes around the roast. Any fat you trimmed off the roast can be put back on the potatoes to flavor them. Carrots in with the potatoes is good too.
Insert a meat thermometer so the tip is in the middle of the roast. I use an electronic one with a wire from the probe out the oven door to the display device. With that I can monitor the progress of the meat without opening the oven door. If you buy a $3 analog thermometer then cook well past the indicated pork temperature as these devices have large errors.
Time putting the roast in the oven so it will be ready at least 20 minutes before you need to carve it. It will take about an hour for a 2.5lb or 1kg roast. If you don't let the meat rest after roasting all the moisture will escape as steam when you cut into it, leaving the meat dry and tasteless.
Serve with apple sauce or authentic French Canadian 'Ketchup' if you have some. My partner makes it so I'll have to cajole the recipe out of him before next fall.