I like pork loin. It’s generally lean, economical, and easy to prepare. But I used to think that local pork loins often turned out somewhat dry and less than flavorful. I was fooling around in the kitchen a few days ago and instead of just roasting a pork loin, I decided to experiment a bit… and the results are worth discussing in a post. First, I brined the pork for roughly 6 hours (overnight would have been better). I have mentioned this technique before, but many readers still write in to ask me to describe it again. Essentially, brining is putting a meat or seafood into a very salty bath, and with the miracle of science, the meat absorbs more water (I think it has something to do with relative saltiness) and thus makes the meat much more juicy when cooked. Everytime I have done this, it has worked wonders. You can brine turkeys, chickens, ducks, pork and I particularly like brined shrimp as well. Stick a cold piece of meat in a pot with enough water to cover the meat, add a LOT of salt, say half a cup or so for a large pork loin or less for a smaller piece of meat. Leave this in the fridge for at least 6 hours…
Remove the soaking pork loin from the fridge and rinse it under cool water. I decided I wanted an adobo flavor to this roask pork so I cut little slits in the meat and stuck in peeled cloves of garlic… I put several cloves worth, but adjust this to your personal taste. Next, stick the whole pork loin in a bowl and add soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves and cracked black pepper and let this marinate for at least 4 hours, better if overnight. Then place on a pan with a rack, and roast the pork in a 375F oven, basting with the marinade at least 2-3 times over the course of an hour or so. Check the internal temperature of the roast if you have a meat thermometer. Add some water to the pan to prevent scorching the drippings from the roast. As soon as the internal temp gets to 140F, then add half a cup of muscovado or dark brown sugar to the remaining marinade and slather this mixture on the pork loin and return it to the oven for another 15 or so minutes until the sugar is melted and the roast is done. Check that the meat has an internal temp of about 160F and remove from the oven.
If you are lucky, there is enough sauce or gravy to spoon over the roast. If there isn’t add a bit of broth or water to the pan. After the roast has rested for 10 minutes, slice it thinly and lay it out on a serving platter. Spoon some of the pan gravy over the slices. I don’t normally like very sweet meats, but surprisingly, this dish was sweetish but not cloyingly so. It was reminiscent of adobo, but only partially so. It was excellent served with some rice and creamed corn. Yum. Oh, you may want to remove the garlic cloves before serving, they can be a bit overwhelming… And one last tip. Don’t overcook the pork. I know you have been conditioned to belief that pork must not have a trace of pinkness whatsoever to the meat, but just as undercooking it may be bad, overcooking it results in cardboard-like tasting meat… invest in a good meat thermometer the next time you see one.