Thursday, October 2, 2008

To Brine and Brown or Not to Brine and Brown...that's the question!

I got this recipe a couple of years ago from the Cooks Illustrated sounded great, so I tried it. I've made it quite a few times and it makes the house smell great! It's also quite impressive if you're having company for dinner....the pork loin is a relatively inexpensive cut of looks great, smells great and tastes wonderful!

Now this is the Cooks Illustrated version......mine follows:

Herb Crusted Pork Loin

3 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast

Kosher Salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium shallot, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
Ground black pepper
⅓ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 large clove garlic, minced

Lightly score fat cap on pork, making ¼-inch crosshatch you would make on a ham. Cut a pocket in the roast. Dissolve ½ cup salt and sugar in 2 quarts water in large container; submerge roast, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse roast under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place bread crumbs in a medium bowl and add 2 tablespoons Parmesan, shallot (or onions), 1 tablespoon oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Using fork, toss mixture until crumbs are evenly coated with oil.

Add parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, 3 tablespoons oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper to food processor workbowl and process until smooth, about twelve 1-second pulses. Transfer herb paste to small bowl.

Spread ¼ cup herb paste inside roast and tie. Season roast with pepper.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add roast, fat side down, and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, lowering heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Using scissors, snip and remove twine from roast; discard twine. Spread remaining herb paste over roast and top with bread crumb mixture. Transfer baking sheet with roast to oven and cook until thickest part of roast registers 145 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 50 to 75 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 150 degrees. Using spatula and meat fork, transfer roast to carving board, taking care not to squeeze juices out of pocket in roast. Cut roast into ½-inch slices and serve immediately. I've said before, I don't really follow recipes very well, so here's how I make this. First of all, I've only brined my pork loin once.....yes, it was a little more juicy and it had a little more flavor.....but, in the sake of time, I leave that step out. Also, most of the time I don't tie it up. Hey. I'm in a hurry sometimes and it still taste the same! I also leave out the Parmesan cheese...the first time I made this, I left out the Parmesan....strictly an oversight! The next time I put it in and I liked it better the first time. I'm also not so "dramatic" about making the herb crust.....I pitch it all in at one time and whizz that processor until it is almost a paste. I like more than one clove of garlic......I normally use 2 or 3! I also don't brown my pork first...I put the herb crust paste inside of the loin and on the top, then stick it in the oven and bake it.

I hope this isn't confusing.......I felt that I should post the recipe just as I found it. But I've been making this for a while now and as I read over it I realized I'd forgotten about the brining and browning, so I thought I'd better add how I do it. It really is easy.....and it really is delicious!!

So.........brine and brown or don't brine and brown....either way, I think you'll love this recipe!

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