Cooking Pork Loin Roast

When cooking a pork loin, get ready for a mouth-watering culinary experience. Just the smell of a pork loin roast cooking in the oven will get you salivating. There are many ways to cook a pork loin roast, so get ready to experiment with the other white meat. You'll be glad you tried them all!

Understanding your Cuts of Pork
If you want to cook a pork loin roast, you're looking to buy part of the back hind quarters of the pig, referred to as the loin. The roast will be labeled "pork loin center rib roast" or "pork loin tenderloin." Both of these sections of the pig are somewhat lean and are perfect candidates for roasting. Tenderloin recipes are always a little trickier because the meat is leaner and therefore needs special attention.

You'll want to buy fresh pork that looks pinkish in color (either pinkish white or pinkish gray, either one is fine). Fresh pork is not salted or cured in any way. Otherwise, it would be ham.

How to Cook Pork Loin Roast
Pork loin and tenderloin can be cooked straight out of the package, after brining, or after marinating in a paste or marinade. If the roast is coated with a paste for marinating, the roast is cooked with the paste or coating still on the pork, creating a delicious coating that will flavor the pork and contrast with the less flavored internal meat. Feel free to add peeled and quartered onions and root vegetables to the roasting or braising recipes cited below for a full meal in one pot.

Roast Pork Loin
If you plan on brining the roast or coating the roast before cooking, do so and set the roast in the refrigerator for the required amount of time (usually 24 to 48 hours). If you do not want to marinate, brine or cover the roast with paste ahead of time, you can simply salt and pepper the roast just before cooking.

Once you are ready to cook the roast, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You want to cook the roast, uncovered, in this high heat for approximately 45 minutes to seal in the juices and to brown the outside of the meat. After 45 minutes, turn down the heat to 350 degrees, cover the meat with a tent of tinfoil, and roast the meat until it reaches the proper temperature (155 degrees), usually about 45 minutes longer. Remove the roast, and let it stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices will set and carving will be easier.

Braised Pork Loin Roasts
Braised pork loin roasts are fabulous because the sautéing makes the outside brown and delicious. Tenderloins are best roasted, pan-fried or grilled, but loin roasts are fabulous when braised.

Brown the pork loin roast in a large skillet, making sure all sides get browned and slightly crisp. Cook roast (covered) in a slow cooker or a Dutch oven with a few cups of wine or broth until meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees. The drippings can be made into gravy if you combine them with flour or cornstarch.

Pastes to Rub on Your Pork Before Cooking
If you decide to rub a paste on your pork, you'll want to do so about 24 hours in advance of the intended cooking time so the paste can marinate the meat. The following are several delicious pastes that bring out the best flavors of pork:

Fennel and Garlic Paste
This simple paste is made from crushed garlic, crushed fennel seeds, salt and olive oil.

Sage, Garlic and Thyme Paste
Combine equal parts of chopped fresh sage and chopped garlic with a small amount of thyme, salt and olive oil.

Caraway Seed Paste
Crush two tablespoons of caraway seeds, and then mix the seeds with a small amount of salt, dry mustard, thyme and oregano with olive oil.

Four-Spice Paste
Combine salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with olive oil.

Slow Cooked Pork Tenderloin on the Grill (Pulled Pork)
Try cooking your pork tenderloin on the grill (covered) at a low temperature (325 is best) for approximately 4 to 5 hours-and see if it doesn't make the most wonderful pulled pork you've ever tried. Rub the tenderloin with olive oil, garlic and a touch of cayenne pepper or dried barbeque seasoning before putting it on the grill, and open the grill only to turn the meat and to make sure it doesn't burn. Better yet, place some water-soaked hickory wood chips on the flame of the grill to smoke the pork as it cooks. The meat should fall apart after it cools and will be perfect for pulled pork sandwiches.

Eastern Carolina Barbeque Sauce for your Pork Loin
Easy to make and perfect on any cut of pork (sliced, chopped or pulled), this thin but spicy barbeque sauce is the perfect way hydrate and season your pork. Simply mix together a quart of cider vinegar, an eighth of a cup of salt, two tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes, and half a cup of brown sugar and let the mixture sit for three hours before serving. This lively sauce is classic in the Eastern side of North Carolina and is popular throughout the South.

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