Saturday dinner: Spice-rubbed honey pork loin

Did you ever start out to make something for dinner without reading the recipe completely and end up changing course when you read the fine print? This recipe for a balsamic and brown sugar glazed pork loin looked awesome until I read that there would be a six- to eight-hour stop in the slow cooker.

Uh. No.

I’m not the world’s biggest crockpot fan. I think it does some things well, like stews and soups, but I think meat that poaches for hours on end is not very good. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this major detail until I popped open the recipe at Wegmans and the pork loin was in my cart. So, I opted to go with improvisation.

Sage is an awesome herb that changes the flavor of any meat to the better. Since I was going to make a rub, I picked up some ground sage in the dry herb aisle. I figured that could be the staple flavor and that I could backfill on the herbs later.

(Side note: It was The Mother-In-Law’s birthday this weekend. She’s awesome. As a result, I would have grilled steaks, but we had rain all day. I don’t care who it is. I’m not standing in the rain to cook.)

I knew I needed some garlic, salt and pepper, but I wanted another strong flavor to contrast the sage. Smoked paprika it was. The pork needed a cap to lock in the juices and promote browning, so I went with honey and olive oil drizzle.

What worked: The spice rub. The smokey paprika and pungent sage made for a complementary blend of flavors.

What didn’t: Cooking time. I based it on a metareview of other spice-rubbed pork loins on the Interwebs and came up with two hours at 300 degrees. I could have pulled it about 15 minutes sooner because it was slightly overcooked. By slight, I mean it was just to the dry side of being fine. That was okay, though, because my crowd doesn’t really buy into cooking pork to medium, even though the USDA says it’s okay.

Will it make another appearance: The spice rub will. I think this would be good on any cut of pork.

Spice-rubbed honey pork loin
By Jared Paventi

  • 1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. ground sage
  • 2 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 lb. pork loin roast
  • clover honey
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup water

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl.

Set a cooling rack into a large roasting pan and brush the rack with olive oil. Place the pork roast on the rack and score a diamond pattern into the meat with a sharp knife. Rub the spices into the meat on all sides. Create a firm crust on the meat. Drizzle honey over the pork roast, followed by a drizzle of olive oil. Add a half cup of water to the pan. Roast for 90 minutes.

Remove the roast, add another drizzle of honey and olive oil to the top and add the remaining water to the pan. Return to the oven for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the roast from the oven and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

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