Pork loin is a great way to feed a crowd, without a whole lot of effort or undue expense. Unless it's done right, though, it can end up dry as a bone. That's where brining comes in. Not only does it make the meat more forgiving to cook, it also seasons this lean cut more thoroughly than simple salting.
While a few hours offers an improvement, brining the meat for 24 hours fares better. Just remember to rinse and pat the meat dry before applying the rub. Take time to turn the roast a few times during cooking, too, as this will give it glistening exterior all the way around. If you have a bit of leftover rub, feel free to apply it when you turn the meat.
- Yield:serves 6 to 8
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:About a day
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.