“I’m doing that,” Suzen said. She pointed to the full page picture of this roast and went to get her car keys.
“You coming?” she asked at the door. “There’s a lot of stuff to carry.”
Well, not that much. Suzen had been scanning the pages of All About Roasting by Molly Stevens and stopped at this recipe. This is a dramatic roast, one that you’ll love showing off to family and friends. Best of all, it takes hours to cook. Your kitchen, your house, will be filled with aromatic treasures for the whole afternoon.
For this roast, Molly alerts you that you’ll need to shop at a specialty meat market, literally “one that goes beyond the standard supermarket fare.” This roast has three pieces: the boneless loin roast, the belly, and the skin. You’ll need a real butcher to help you here, but it is worth every bit of effort.
To make this, we added potatoes to cook for the last hour. It’s a one meal wonder.
Oven Roasted Porchetta
Yield: serves 8
- 1 center-cut pork loin with the belly flap attached, preferably with skin on (8 to 9pounds), or 1 boneless center-cut pork loin (about 5 pounds) plus 1 pork belly (4 to 5 pounds)
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground to a coarse powder
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
TRIM THE PORK AND SCORE THE RIND. If you purchased a pork loin with the belly attached, unroll the roast so the skin side is down. Examine the belly portion and determine whether you need to trim away any of the top layer of fat. If the roast came without skin, turn it over and also trim away some of the fat from the top side if need be. All pork bellies have prodigious amounts of fat; how much you leave in place is a matter of personal preference. Ideally you want a layer just under ½ inch thick, so if the butcher has left more than this, use a large chefs knife to pare it down. (The fat can be saved for rendering or other use.)
If you’ve got a separate pork loin and pork belly, check that the outermost fat layer of the pork belly is less than ½inch thick. If needed, trim it down. Next, drape the belly (skin side up) around the pork loin (without tying it), just to get a sense of how it will fit. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it extends more than 1 inch over the ends of the loin, trim it down and save the trimmings for another use. If there’s a gap on the underside because the belly doesn’t reach all the way around, that’s fine. Also, if you’ve got a separate piece of pork skin, drape this over the roast and trim it to fit (poultry shears or utility scissors are useful here).
Now arrange the belly, whether separate or attached to the loin, so it is skin side up on a stable surface and, using a box cutter, utility knife, or other razor-sharp knife, carefully (but firmly) score the rind in parallel lines about ½-inch apart, cutting through the rind and just into the fat (about ½-inch deep) without cutting through to the meat. The lines can go in any direction that appeals to you.
SEASON AND TIE THE ROAST. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, the rosemary, sage, thyme, fennel, zest, and red pepper flakes. For the single-piece roast, unroll the belly flap and sprinkle the seasonings evenly over the belly and the roast, rubbing lightly so the seasonings adhere. Roll the flap around the loin; if the skin is a separate piece, drape it over, and secure the whole porchetta at 1- to 2-inch intervals with kitchen string.
For the 2- or 3-piece roast, sprinkle half the seasonings all over the loin and the other half on the meat side of the belly, rubbing lightly so they stick, and then wrap the belly (skin side out) over the loin, so the belly covers the top side (fat side) of the roast thoroughly and any gap is on the bottom (or rib side). If the skin is a separate piece, drape it over the top. Secure the entire ensemble with kitchen string, tying loops at 1-to 2-inch intervals.
Season the surface of the roast lightly but evenly with salt and pepper (about ⅜ teaspoon each), getting some into the score marks as well. Set the roast on a tray or in a baking dish and refrigerate, uncovered or loosely covered, for 24 to 48 hours. Let the pork sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before roasting.
HEAT THE OVEN. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 500°F (475°F convection).
ROAST. Place the pork seam side down on a roasting rack in a sturdy roasting pan just large enough to accommodate it. Roast for 25 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F degrees (300°F convection). Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 140 to 145°, another 3 hours or so—but it’s a good idea to start checking the temperature after another 2 hours.
REST AND CARVE. Transfer the roast to a carving board, preferably one with a trough. Let rest for at least 25 minutes (the roast can easily sit at room temperature for an hour and not suffer). Carve into ¼- to ½-inch-thick slices, removing the strings as you go and doing your best to give each serving a bit of the crackling rind. If the rind is too tough to slice through easily (or if it was a separate piece to begin with), remove it in larger chunks and transfer it to a second cutting board, where you can chop it into pieces to serve alongside the sliced roast.
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Source: All About Roasting by Molly Stevens
If you eat meat, you’ll eventually be roasting. What could be simpler? You put it in the oven, and you take it out. And the results? Sometimes good, and sometimes not. It turns out that if you want quality every time, then you need to learn a bit about the techniques of roasting and what is really happening inside your oven.
Where to learn? All About Roasting by Molly Stevens is a new cookbook filled with advice, history, science, and — best of all — wonderful recipes. We tried the Maple-Brined Boneless Pork Loin Roast with Apple, Onion, and Mustard Bread Crumbs. We tried, we ate, we smiled.
What is it about roasting that is tricky? Well, to begin, that meat you are cooking starts out as an insulator, not a conduct of heat. But as the meat cooks, especially if it contains fat, the meat becomes more conductive. That is how an “almost done roast” can go to “oh, dear, overdone” seemingly in a flash.
Next, we all love that crust that forms on the surface of the meat. That truly is where key flavor and aroma components arise. To get the crust, the surface of the meat has to reach 400⁰F. But you also want the rest of the meat juicy and not overcooked. That means the deep inside temperature has to be 120⁰ [for rare meat] to 170⁰ [for most poultry]. How do you time and manage a 200⁰+ temperature difference?
Specific techniques and alternatives are all carefully delineated for you in All About Roasting. The 40 page Introduction Chapter truly gives you a master’s degree in roasting.
This pork roast recipe was our first test of All About Roasting, and it was deliciously wonderful. If you are seeking a striking dish for a holiday party, then this dish give you wonderful option.
All About Roasting is a most successful follow on to Molly’s All About Braising.
Maple-Brined Boneless Pork Loin Roast with Apple, Onion, and Mustard Bread Crumbs
Yield: serves 4to 5
For the brine:
- 5 cups cool water (about 50 degrees)
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed (you can leave the skins on)
- Bay leave, preferably fresh
- One 2- to 2 ½ pound boneless pork loin, preferably a blade-end roast, tied at 2-inch intervals along its length
For roasting the pork:
- 1 pound tart, crisp apples (3 to 4 apples, such as Granny Smith, Jonagold, or Winesap, peeled, cored, an cut into 1-ich chunks (about 3 cups)
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups fresh apple cider
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
For the bread crumbs:
- ¾ cups fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Make the brine. At least 18 hours before roasting, combine the water with the salt and syrup and stir to dissolve the salt. Add he rosemary, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves.
Brine the pork. If you have a sturdy gallon-size bag (zip-top freeze bag are best), this is the neatest route. Place the roast in the bag, pour in the brine, and seal. If the brine doesn’t completely surround the pork, either squeeze out some of the air, or, if needed, add a little cold water. Set the bag in a bowl or dish to guard against leaks and refrigerate. Otherwise, place the roast in a large bowl (deeper rather than wider works best) and pour the brine over it. If necessary, add just enough extra cold water to cover the roast completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 16 hours and up to24 hours. About 1 hour before roasting, remove the pork from the brine (discard the brine) and let sit at room temperature.
Heat the oven and prepare the apples and vegetables. Position a rack in the center of the oven ad heat to 325⁰F. If you have not done so already, remove the pork from the brine and let sit at room temperature. Meanwhile, put the apple, onion, and rosemary in a bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread the apple-onion mixture on the bottom of a shallow-sided roasting pan that will hold he pork roast with only2 to 3 inches around the side to spare (I use an 11-by-13 inch pan).
Make the glaze. Heat 1 cup of the cider I a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until reduce to about ½ cup syrupy glaze, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the maple syrup and mustard. Set aside.
Brown the pork. Heat a large skillet (10 inches will do) over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skilled and pat the pork dy. As soon as the oil is hot, brown the pork, turning with tongs, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Using tongs, set the pork fast side up on the apples and onions.
Deglaze the pan. Return the skillet to high eat Add the remaining 1 cup cider and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to bring up the tasty browned bits. Continue to boil until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Pour the reduced cider over the apples and onions in the roasting pan, being careful not to pour the liquid over the pork.
Glaze the pork. Brush about half the reserved glaze over the top side of the pork.
Roast the pork. Roast, brushing after 45 minutes with the remaining glaze, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 140 to 145⁰, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Prepare the bread crumbs. In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs, melt but, mustard and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Rest the roast and toast the bread crumbs. Transfer the pork to a carving board, preferably with a trough, to rest for 10 to15 minutes. Sir the apple-onion mixture (it will very soft and like a compote and taste for salt and pepper. Set in a warm space. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 375⁰ (350⁰ convection). Spread the bread crumb on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring often, until golden brown and crispy,10 to12 minutes.
Carve and serve. Remove the string, and carve the roast into slices, pouring any carving juice into the apple-onions. For family-style service, scrape the compote onto a serving platter and top with pork slices For individual plates, spoon some of the apple-onion mixture onto each plate and serve the pork alongside. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and serve immediately.
Source: All About Roasting by Molly Stevens