Cider Brined Pork Roast.
Hello, the holidays are coming on fast. First Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s Eve/Day.
We’ve got some cooking to plan. Some serious eating to do!
I was talking with my friend Nikolay (of Roasted Poblano Chicken Soup fame) the other day about alternatives to turkey and the subject of pork roast came up. I’m a big fan of pork roast for dinner parties and family gatherings because it is easy to prepare, feeds a crowd without breaking the bank, always available, and all round delicious.
I usually make pork roast with a nice herb and mustard crust but was very excited to try this one that is brined or soaked in an apple cider flavored liquid.
Brining tenderizes the meat and infuses it with flavor. Because this step takes time, be sure to allow at least 8 hours or even over night for your roast to soak in the brining liquid.
Here’s what you need:
Pork Roast, Onions, Small Potatoes, Apple Cider, Brown Sugar, Black Peppercorns (whole), Coriander Seeds (whole), Bay Leaves, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.
By definition any thing briny is salty. I am not one who really salts my food so let me reassure you that brining meat does not mean it will be salty. It’s somewhat magical that meat can soak in salt water and spices and not be salty but it’s true.
To make the brine, combine ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup salt, and 1 bay leaf in a medium sauce pan.
Add 1 Tablespoon of whole coriander seeds. Do not substitute ground spices here, they would be way too strong.
Add 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns and 1 cup of water and stir to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar has totally dissolved.
Pour 2 cups of good apple cider into a large bowl. Try to buy fresh apple cider that is unfiltered (cloudy) rather than bottled juice. Look for it in your produce or refrigerated section.
Add the dissolved sugar mixture to the cider and stir to combine.
Stir in 1 cup of ice cubes to cool the brine.
I have a boneless pork loin roast that is between 3-4 pounds. You will have enough brine for up to a 5 pound roast if it is boneless. Otherwise, if you have a larger roast, double the brine recipe.
The boneless roast will usually come tied together from the butcher/grocery store. Having the meat securely tied not only helps it cook more evenly, but (as you will see later when mine comes untied), it also helps the presentation.
You can also make this with a bone in roast, you will just need to adjust the cooking time to add a few more minutes in the oven.
Place the roast in an extra large ziplock bag. Pour the cooled brine over the roast and seal the bag.
I always like to sit the bag in a bowl just in case the bag springs a leak. If you don’t have a large enough plastic bag, you can brine the roast in a deep bowl covered with plastic wrap.
Let your roast soak in the brine in the refrigerator for at least 8 and up to 24 hours. The longer, the better.
When you are ready to cook, remove the roast from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. You don’t ever want to put an ice cold roast into the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
While the roast is coming up to room temperature, slice 2 onions. I have white and red for extra flavor and sweetness as well as color.
Slice the onions in thick wedges.
Using a rolling pin, meat tenderizer (flat side), or something nice and heavy, finely crush 1 Tablespoon of coriander seeds.
Remove the roast from the brine and discard the liquid.
Thoroughly pat the roast dry with paper towels.
Pat the crushed coriander seeds onto the outside of the roast on all sides. Season with some freshly cracked black pepper.
You can see that I’ve tucked 2 bay leaves onto my roast. Don’t do it. Unless you have fresh bay leaves, this was part of the recipe that looked great but didn’t work. The dried bay leaves will burn. We will add them later.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the roast to the pan and brown the meat on all sides.
Mmm…golden and seared. The key to a juicy roast.
Place the onion wedges and 1½ pounds of small potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan. If your potatoes are large, cut them into halves or quarters.
I love these little red and white new potatoes. I also had purple ones but I saved them for a crazy potato salad.
Drizzle the potatoes and onions with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and season lightly with salt & pepper.
Place the browned roast in the pan surrounded by the vegetables.
NOW you can either add your bay leaves by tucking them gently under the string or just tossing them in with the roast and veggies.
If your string breaks like mine did, do yourself a favor and retie your roast with clean kitchen cooking string. Otherwise you will have lopsided roast. Still tasty but just not as pretty.
Bake the roast at 400 degrees for about 50-60 minutes depending on the size of your roast. I plan on 15-20 minutes or cooking time per pound.
At about 45 minutes, take the roast out and test the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The ideal pork temperature is 140 degrees. I’m only at 120 so back in the oven it goes for another 10 minutes or so.
While you have the roast out taking its temperature, give those potatoes a quick toss so that they caramelize on the other side.
140 degrees, golden, slightly charred, tender, and roasty!
Let the meat rest for 10 minutes (I like to tent it very loosely with foil to keep it warm) before slicing.
Serve with the potatoes and onions on the side.
AND GRAVY! Dear Bon Appétit Magazine, where is your gravy???
I cannot, will not, eat pork roast without gravy so I made some with all those tasty pan drippings.
Sorry there is no photo, but here’s the quick method: Place your roasting pan right on the stove over medium heat and sprinkle in 1-2 Tablespoons of flour (even gluten free flour works like a charm). Stir the flour into all those browned bits in the pan then add 1/4 cup of apple cider. Continue to stir so that a thick paste forms. Then add water a little bit at a time until you have good gravy consistency. You will want to bring your gravy to a simmer just to be sure that it has thickened to its full potential. Because there were so many browned bits in the gravy, just to make it look a little nicer, I strained it before putting it into a gravy boat/bowl.
NOW it’s ready to eat!
This was really a lovely recipe. The pork is extremely tender and flavorful. I added some steamed asparagus for a bit of green veg.
Cider Brined Pork Roast will definitely be making another appearance at our house this holiday season!
Here’s the recipe – adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine