Posts Tagged ‘loin’

I’m a fan of Berkshire pork, also known as kurobuta pork. It’s a heritage breed with wonderful, tasty “good” fat, which gives the meat fantastic flavor any way you cook it. I get it on line, and keep a stash of cuts (pork belly, pork chops, ribs, etc.) in my freezer.

But I was craving a pork loin the other day, and not having one of those in my arsenal, I searched for one in my local store. I found one that was humanely raised and organic, with a nice layer of fat on top ideal for low-and-slow cooking…certainly worth a try.

There are as many pork rubs out there as there are barbecue fanatics, and nobody has “the best” rub. The best rub is the one you make with the ingredients that you like. So, go with your favorite flavors, and you won’t go wrong.

This time around, I used this combination…

 

 

2 tablespoons Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal. See note below.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

 

Combine these in a bowl and set it aside.

 

Not all Kosher salt weighs the same, so equal measurements of different brands will give you different levels of saltiness and different results. The two biggest brands are Morton’s and Diamond Crystal, but Diamond Crystal is less dense…it weighs less than Morton’s. Keep that in mind as you salt your food. That’s why you’ll see Kosher salt measured by weight, not by volume, in many recipes.

I had a 4-lb. pork loin this time. I removed it from its wrapper and placed it in a tray for seasoning. I gently scored the fat cap with a sharp knife so the fat melt while cooking, and so that I could really rub my spice blend into every bit of the meat.

I inserted a meat probe in the deepest part of the loin, so that it would notify me when my pork loin reaches its optimum temperature.

 

The pork loin, probed and ready.

 

I let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour, bringing the internal temperature of the meat from 33 to 68 degrees.

I use an electric smoker, so I plugged it in and set the temperature for 250 degrees. I added hickory chips through a side chute, so it smokes the meat while it cooks.

 

In the smoker…

 

It used to be that the recommended minimum cooking temperature for pork was 160 degrees. But today’s pork is different than our mama’s pork, and the current recommended temperature is 145 degrees. Personally, I don’t want to eat pink pork, but I also don’t want to dry it out…so I split the difference: I cook the pork until the thermometer reads 145, then I remove it from the smoker, cover it in foil, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. In that time, the temperature of the meat still rises a few degrees, and that’s when I’m OK to serve it.

 

I’m notified when the pork reaches the desired temperature.

 

I leave the probe in the pork so I can monitor the temperature while it’s resting. Jumped 1 degree by the time I brought it into the kitchen!

 

Resting, wrapped in foil. My small pork loin went up a total of 4 degrees, to 149. But larger cuts of meat will experience an even bigger temperature jump.

 

Delicious and perfectly smoked!

 

The relatively flat pork loin actually tightened up and became rounder during the smoking/cooking process.

 

 

 

 

The “paste” used in this dish is really more like a citrusy pesto that you smear all over the meat before cooking, preferably the day before. The citrus flavors work really well with the pork, and the initial high-heat cooking really gets the fat crispy and delicious.

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Ingredients:

1 pork loin, about 8 lbs. (I use Berkshire pork)

 

zest of 2 oranges

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

3 cloves garlic, through a press

1/4 cup olive oil

 

In a food processor bowl, combine the orange and lemon zest, the rosemary, sage, salt and pepper, and garlic. Pulse the processor just to mix, then turn it on and add the olive oil slowly, in a stream, until you get what resembles an oily pesto.

Score the fatty side of the pork loin with a knife in a diamond pattern. Rub the paste on all sides of the pork, but especially into the cracks of the fatty side.

Lay the loin down on a rack, raised off a sheet pan, fatty side up. Place it in the fridge, unwrapped, overnight.

The next day, about an hour before cooking, remove the loin from the fridge and let it come back to room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bake the pork loin at 450 for 20 minutes, then cut the heat to 350 and cook until the pork reaches a temperature of 140 degrees (light pink). Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

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There are few carbs in this preparation, because I use just the zest of the citrus and not the juice.

Many of my recipes come from the fact that I live just a little too far from the nearest supermarket to simply jump in the car when I’m out of a certain ingredient. OK…actually, I’m too damn lazy. So I stand in front of the refrigerator, doors open, looking at my inventory, and when the fridge alarm sounds telling me to shut the freakin’ door, I’ve usually decided on what I’m going to do.

This is one such recipe. It works with whatever cut of pork you like, and with whatever citrus you have on hand. I’ve used blood oranges, grapefruit, you name it.

citrus pork

Ingredients:

1 5-lb. pork loin

2 garlic cloves, through a garlic press

3 cloves, crushed

1 large lemon, juice and zest

1 orange, juice and zest

1 8″ sprig fresh rosemary, cut into pieces

2 teaspoons fennel seed, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon juniper berries, coarsely chopped

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To make the marinade, combine garlic, cloves, lemon juice and zest, orange juice and zest, rosemary, fennel, juniper berries, bay leaves, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.

Place pork loin, fat side up, on cutting board and gently slash diagonally through the fat, creating a diamond pattern.

Place pork loin in a non-reactive bowl and massage well with marinade mixture. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, let the pork loin come to room temperature. Wipe off the marinade, especially the larger chunks. Season again with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

On the stove top, heat an ovenproof pan. Place pork loin fat side down and sear. Flip the loin over so that all sides sear nicely, then place in the oven. Cook with fat side up. Cook until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.