Brown Sugar-Rubbed Pork Loin with Orzo

[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.

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Brown Sugar-Rubbed Pork Loin with Orzo

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 6 to 8
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:About a day
Special equipment:Roasting pan, oven roasting bag for brine
This recipe appears in: Sunday Supper: Brown Sugar-Rubbed Pork Loin with Orzo


  • For the Pork:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 5 to 5 1/2 pound bone-in pork loin
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • For the Orzo:
  • 3/4 pound orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. 1

    Combine water, salt, vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, honey, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns in a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  2. 2

    Place pork in a large, resealable bag and place inside of a roasting pan to protect refrigerator from potential leaks. Pour cooled brine over pork. Tightly seal bag and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 24 hours.

  3. 3

    30 minutes before ready to cook, adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, garlic powder, paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small mixing bowl.

  4. 4

    Remove pork from the refrigerator, discard brine and rinse pork thoroughly under water. Pat dry with paper towels and place pork in a shallow, heavy roasting pan and rub liberally with the spice mixture. Roast, uncovered, turning the meat periodically, until pork registers 140 to 145°F on an instant read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/4 hours total.

  5. 5

    Transfer to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and allow the roast to rest for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place roasting pan on stove top over medium-high heat. Add wine and stock and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits off of bottom. Reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons butter off heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  6. 6

    Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain pasta, place in a serving dish and toss with butter, sundried tomatoes, parsley and Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Carve pork loin from bone and slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Drizzle with pan sauce and serve immediately with orzo.


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