Pork loins were on sale last week, if you bought the whole thing. In our case, the whole thing was seven pounds and some-odd ounces, a LOT of meat for two people. So I sliced some off for chops, froze a section to roast some other day and then tried a new recipe-- Cranberry Pepper Pork Loin Roast--with the balance. My niece and her partner were glad to help us out by taking some and it fed us all happily for several days.
I'm thinking this would be a lovely Thanksgiving entree--it's delicious and healthy, the prep is done the day before, and it cooks in a reasonable amount of time, freeing me up to sleep late. Hard to ask for more...
The recipe is adapted from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone's, which I found on the website About.com. It resulted in perfectly cooked, flavorful meat with a sweet and hot and spicy moist crust.
1 (4-6 lbs) pork loin roast
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground chipotle chili pepper**
1 teaspoon garlic powder***
1 teaspoon onion powder***
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teapsoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
**I didn't have chipotle powder so I used a combination of 1 1/2 Tbsp. of my favorite single-chili powder, a wonderful Nambe` from New Mexico, which you can purchase here, The Chili Shop , plus 1 heaping tsp of smoked paprika. Folks who prefer a milder flavor can try reducing the amount of chili powder or using ancho chili powder instead.
***Generally I like using pressed garlic and minced onion instead of powders but the powders were fine in this, no off flavors. Maybe someone who knows more than I do would know if the raw states are more likely to burn or turn bitter during roasting.
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, brown sugar, thyme, and sage until cranberries are chopped into small flecks (next time I'll be more patient and pulse longer...).
Rub the spice mixture over the surface of the pork loin. Wrap tightly with plastic film or place into a zip-top bag. Refrigerate overnight.
The rub is moist and a little slippery but the time under wrap in the fridge helps it adhere to the meat.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450 F. Put the oven rack on the lowest level in the oven and place the pork loin in a roasting pan.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 F. Roast an additional 3/4 hour to 1 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast indicates a temperature of 150 F. (Roast will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven.) Check at 10 minute intervals until it reaches desired temperature. Tent the roast with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
The rub blackened some in the process but didn't acquire a burnt taste. I went for a walk and stopped to talk to the neighbors and...ours came out at 155 F internal temp. Fortunately it was still moist and a little pink inside.
I made a bit of sauce by taking some of the rub off of the roast, thinning it with a bit of Amontillado medium sherry, which is a lovely light gold color and has notes of almonds, toast, and roasted oranges (to my taste anyway), then heating the sauce to burn off the alcohol. I keep a bottle for cooking, currently it's Osborne, a Spanish Jerez Xeres sherry. It's a great addition to salad dressings and sauces.
Denny really liked the roast. He made smashed potatoes to go with it, using a bit of basil-garlic olive oil and some fat-free half and half. I poured a Nobilo Marleboro Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The zingy grapefruit and pineapple flavors complemented well. Next time we'll try a Pinot Noir. I think the earthiness and cherry flavors would complement too.