The pork loin is second to none in the category of roast versatility. Pair it with roasted apples and minty snap peas for an elegant repast, or serve it with mashed potatoes and gravy for a comfort-food Sunday dinner. If there's anything left, slice it for sandwiches or chop it up, drench it in barbecue sauce and serve it on a bun. A novice can make this humble cut of meat the starting point of a reputation as an accomplished cook.
Bone or No Bone
The pork loin roast comes from the same section as pork chops and can be purchased with or without the bone. The bone-in version resembles an oversized rack of lamb or, when tied in a circle, a crown rib roast. The boneless pork loin is rolled and covered with a layer of fat to ensure its juicy goodness. Both are tender, relatively lean premium cut roasts that are simple to prepare. While some prefer the bone-in flavor, the boneless roast is more versatile, lending itself more readily to stuffing and seasoning.
Get Ready to Roast
Take a look at the fat cap on your roast. If it's thick, trim it to about 1/4 inch and score it lightly. You want the fat to make its way through the roast so that you don't end up with a dry piece of shoe leather. Alternatively, trim all of the fat from the meat and wrap the loin in bacon. Thinly sliced bacon will crisp faster, so is better on smaller roasts. For a crown roast, use thick-sliced bacon and wrap it around the meat at the bottom of the roast.
Pork loin roasts love garlic, rosemary, sage and onion, but you can use just about anything that strikes your fancy. First, though, rub the whole thing all over with salt and freshly ground pepper. In a pinch, you can use garlic and onion salt or a combination of both.
Season your roast before wrapping it in bacon. Consider using other types of bacon such as applewood-smoked, Black Forest or maple.
A rolled boneless roast is a snap to stuff. Make a simple stuffing with seasoned panko or regular bread crumbs. For moisture, use crumbled sausage, a bit of egg or some dry white wine. Season with abandon. Snip the string and unroll your roast like a Persian carpet. Spread it generously with the stuffing, roll it back up and tie it with kitchen string.
For a crown roast, simply pile all the stuffing in the middle. About 30 minutes into your cooking time, cover the stuffing with foil to keep it from drying out.
Into the Oven
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit so that the exterior of the roast can crisp. Pork cooks quickly and you really don't want it overly done -- 10 minutes per pound is about right regardless of the size of the roast. The Department of Agriculture has relaxed its rules for safe pork-cooking temperatures. Use a meat thermometer, taking care not to let it touch the bone if you've chosen a bone-in roast. An instant-read meat thermometer is worth the price. Shoot for an internal temperature of 145 F. The temperature will rise a bit as the roast rests.
Serve It Up
Let your roast rest -- tented in foil but not wrapped -- for 10 minutes. Slicing the meat before resting causes the juices to run out and leave you with a dry roast. Slicing the pork across the grain creates pieces with short fibers and are thus more tender.