This recipe is simple and delicious. I use a 2 pound roast because I was making it for my little family. I purchased a 4 pound roast, which is fairly standard, and cut it in half. I have dubbed this year internally as The Year of the Pig. I’m sorry rabbits. I don’t eat rabbits…yet. But I like pork. I also appreciate how easy it can be. Pork tenderloin is one of the most well behaved cuts of meat around. Pork can be tricky, though. I will admit to my share of shoe leather pork chops. I’ve been there. I still visit there occasionally. But this loin roast is wonderful. How could it not be, wrapped up in bacon as it is? I cooked it in my cast iron skillet, which always makes me happy. Any roasting pan will do, though.
2 pound pork loin (½ of a 4 pound loin)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping Tablespoon fresh sage
1 Tablespoon olive oil
7 strips of bacon (preferably thick cut)
Chop the garlic. Add the salt to the garlic and continue to chop it until it gets to the consistency of a chunky paste. Add the sage to the garlic and chop it a bit more to combine it thoroughly. Drizzle the olive oil over the garlic and sage and mix it into the paste.
Pat the piece of pork dry with a paper towel and place it in the skillet or baking dish, fat side up. Rub the garlic and sage paste all over the piece of pork, top and bottom. Take the strips of bacon and wrap them around the seasoned pork, one around each end and the remaining draped over the top and tucked under the bottom.
Place the skillet in the hot oven. Cook the pork until a meat thermometer stuck into the middle of the meat registers 130 degrees. The pork will continue to cook once it is taken out of the oven. As you approach 130 degrees, if the bacon has not browned nicely, consider giving it a minute or two under the broiler so that it is browned and crispy when you remove it from the oven.
Tent the pork lightly with foil and let it rest for approximately 20 minutes before carving.
Remove the pork to a cutting board to carve it, and pour the pan juices into a fat separator. Carve the pork into thin slices and serve it with the separated juices. Discard the fat. This is a salty pan juice, so consider skipping it or lightening it with a little chicken broth if you are salt averse.
Notes: This pork was perfectly cooked through and quite juicy. I firmly believe that the good outcome depends on letting the meat rest for the full 20 minutes after removing it from the oven. It allows the juices to settle into the meat. Also, the USDA still recommends cooking pork to 160 degrees. I do not do that. People are all over the map on the “right” temperature. You need to do what makes you comfortable. I took my target temperature from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. While resting, the temperature of the roast continues to increase.
If you do not own a meat thermometer that stays in the meat during cooking, I highly recommend it. I use a remote digital thermometer that is attached to a cord that comes out of the oven and is inserted into a digital readout device. I love it.
Being in a lazy mood on this occasion, I did not brine the pork. It turned out great, but I always wonder whether it would have been better if I had. If you choose to brine your pork roast, prepare a solution of 2 quarts of water with ¼ cup of table salt dissolved into it. Brine the pork in this salty solution for 1-½ to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the pork from the brine and then let it rest out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes before proceeding.
The above is the solution and timing recommended by Cook’s Illustrated. I always know I can find the answers to these questions in my stack of old Cook’s Illustrated magazines or in their “best” cookbooks, all of which I recommend. But today I finally caved in and renewed my online membership so that I could find the answer immediately. Though I love free content, this is one online subscription that is worth the price.