Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Herb-marinated pork loin

I tend to complicate things.  Overthink things.  Obsess over things and make lists so I won't forget them.  I even have trouble shutting off my brain at night.  So much so that I keep a notepad next to my bed so I can jot down ideas lest I forget them come morning.  You could say I'm a details person.  (Understatement of the year, right parents?)  Sometimes that's a good thing.

Other times, well, I've learned that it's necessary to let go.  To go with the flow.  Every minute doesn't need to be accounted for on a vacation.  (Rachel and I have even gone as far as setting aside blocks of time to "be spontaneous!" on our travel itineraries.  True story.)  So, when I came face to face with a recipe like this, well, I wasn't quite sure how to act.  It just seemed so... so... low maintenance.  So easy.  So hands off.  It almost felt like cheating to call it a recipe. 

It all started when I spotted the first item on the front page of the weekly sale flyer for the grocery store: "Pork loin $1.99/pound.  Cut to order -- free of charge!"  I marched into the grocery store with my mind set on buying two or three pounds of pork loin.  I picked up a six and a half pound prepackaged pork loin, took it to the meat counter, and asked to have a smaller portion cut for me.  What did I learn?  "Oh, we will cut the pork loin however you want, but you must purchase the whole thing."  Gulp.  "Three smaller roasts then, please."

Thankfully, I didn't have to abandon my original plan for the pork.  (I just have two giant roasts in my freezer...)  "Plan" if you can even call it that.  Measure marinade ingredients into large resealable bag.  Add pork, store in fridge overnight, cook in oven, slice and eat.  That's it.

While it was cooking, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I felt like a girl waiting to be picked up for a first date... pacing around the apartment, checking the clock, and telling myself, "Just be patient, Katy."  Well, when it was time, out came the roast.  And, let me tell you... this was way better than any first date I've ever had :) 

The herbs and garlic clung to the outside of the roast and made it so incredibly moist and flavorful!  The lemon and thyme provided a super fresh citrus flavor that not only tenderized the meat during marinating but sweetened it during cooking.  And, it was just so gorgeous.  I mean, doesn't this look like something you'd get at a four star restaurant?  Do it at home yourself for a tenth of the cost and stay in your sweatpants :)

Herb-Marinated Pork Roast
(marinade adapted from Ina Garten, cooking method from experience)
-serves 4-6

A few notes: Ina used three small pork tenderloins, but porn loin was on sale at the store so I used a 2.5 pound roast cut from the much larger whole loin.

1 lemon, zest grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
Good olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pork loin roast (2-3 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.  (Overnight is the most convenient, too!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat.  Place the pork in a glass baking dish and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for approximately 1  to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees according to a meat thermometer. 

Remove pork from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

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