Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pork Roast with Herbed Salt Rub

A wonderfully-seasoned pork roast cooked to perfection with just a blush of pink.

A roast is one of the easiest of meals to prepare, especially if you have a family. Pop it in the oven and it's done. And leftover slices make for great sandwiches, either warm or cold.

Unfortunately, finding a good roast is not always easy. Most super market selections are de-boned for convenience and scalped of fat for the health-conscious consumer. When I lived in a small rural town in Indiana, my neighborhood grocer had incredible roasts, especially pork roasts, bone in, and with a nice layer of fat which one wants when oven-cooking. They were always tender and wonderfully juicy and succulent--and I suspect they were local. I haven't had a good beef rump roast since I left Michigan several years ago. 

For this particular recipe, I used a pork loin roast (not to be confused with pork tenderloin, a different cut). Pork loins are usually uniform in shape, so they bake evenly. The one pictured still had a nice layer of fat, though I would have liked a bit more. I bought a 4 lb. roast and cut it into two 2 lb. sections, freezing one for later use.

The salt rub took some experimentation and trial-and-error. Don't be put off by the lemon and don't omit it or the fennel seeds.

  • 1 pork loin roast, 2-3lbs.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose pepper
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Using a damp paper towel, wipe the roast and set aside on a large plate.

In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, sage, crushed fennel seed, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon zest. Using the back of a spoon (or a mortar and pestle if you have one) work the salt into the herbs. Add the olive oil and continue mashing away. 

Begin spooning salt rub over pork roast, top and bottom, and work in with your fingers.

Pork loin is quite lean. That bit of fat on top will prevent it
from drying out as it roasts.

Place roast on a rack inside a roasting pan large enough to hold it. It's important to put it on a rack so it does not rest on bottom of pan. Roast at 350 F degrees until a quick-read thermometer registers 140 F degrees (about 20-30 minutes per pound). Remove from oven and allow to rest a good 15 minutes or so before carving. Cut thin slices and serve. (At this point, the salt and herbs have pretty much done their job forming a crust and flavoring the meat, so you need not worry about them falling off.)

If you desire gravy, just add a bit of water to the juices in the bottom of the pan and re-heat over low heat until bubbly. Add a small knob of butter to richen it up a bit. (If you have it on hand, a shot or two of the old stand-by Kitchen Bouquet never hurt.)

I served mine with a side of mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.

Notes: I used a micro-plane to zest my lemon which makes for fine, fluffy zest. There's nothing worse than overcooked pork. You want that bit of pink. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, crush the fennel seeds with a rolling pin or the back of spoon. A mini-spice mill makes easy work of it all, though.


Paula said...

Ok, how did you know I was thinking about leaving out the fennel? But I will do as you say. :-)

Kitchen Bounty said...

Paula: hahaha--I love fennel with pork and sausage. If you are adverse, maybe just don't add as much. I'm having this again on Sunday . . .