Friday, October 19, 2007
With the weather changing, my cooking inclinations also change. Instead of trying to cook light meals that take the shortest time and won't heat up the house, thoughts turn to warming foods like soup and baking seems like a far more attractive proposition than it did even two weeks ago. This change of feeling is what lead to my (first ever) pork roast yesterday.
My husband and I actually don't eat that much pork. We mainly have it as a way to break the monotony of consuming (greatly cheaper) chicken so frequently. When I headed off to the market, I knew I was going to buy what I needed for potato and onion soup but I wasn't sure what to make with it. I figured I'd let the selections in the meat racks "inspire" me with whatever was unique to us and relatively reasonably priced.
I found a largish hunk of pork for about 100 yen per 100 grams and decided to give it a try. As points of comparison, chicken breast is generally 39 yen per 100 grams, thighs about 59 yen per 100 grams and pork chops are about 89 yen per 100 grams. So, while this was a little expensive, it wasn't outrageous.
When I got home, I decided to mix several methods and recipes I'd searched on the Internet to prepare it. Here is what I ended up doing:
Pork Roast recipe:
2.4 lbs (1096 grams) pork roast (loin cut, I believe)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 crushed cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
~1/2 pound thinly-sliced bacon (4-6 strips)
cotton twine for tying
Preparing the work surface:
Stretch a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to wrap your roast on the table. Cut 6 lengths of cotton twine to size for tying your roast then place 3 lengths horizontally and 3 lengths vertically across the plastic in a criss-cross fashion. The strings need to intersect close enough to tie up your roast. Place strips of bacon horizontally over the 3 horizontal lengths of twine.
Preparing the roast:
Put the olive oil, garlic, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk together to mix well. Rub this mixture evenly over all sides of your roast.
Place the roast on top of the pre-prepared work surface. The bacon should cover all (or almost all) of the bottom of the roast and wrap somewhat up the sides when you tie everything in place. Place three strips of bacon vertically on the top and wrap them around the sides. Depending on the size of your roast, you may need more or less bacon. When the bacon is in place, tie the roast up (not too tightly, just tight enough to hold the bacon securely). Wrap the plastic wrap around the prepared roast and put it in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.
Place a rack on a tray. Remove the plastic wrap from the roast and position it on the rack. I also put foil under the rack to make cleaning up easier but it's not necessary. The bacon fat will drip off into the tray and it will be very oily when the roast is finished.
Cook at 160 degrees C. or 325 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes per pound.
My roast was 2.4 pounds and cooked for an hour and a half. I also flipped it over at the 45 minute point when I noticed the bacon on the top was browning and crisping up faster than that on the bottom but this may not be necessary in a larger oven. You will want to cook a bit longer if you want a more well-done roast. My level of cooking was medium and safe but a lot of people are more comfortable cooking pork longer.
My husband was very, very pleased with the roast because it was exceptionally tender. For me, the center was a bit too juicy so I will eat only from the ends (which were still tender but drier) while he will stick to the rarer center.
Earlier, I had already cooked up about 6 servings of soup which we reheated and ate with the pork. Since the soup is a bit of a production, I wanted to get it out of the way before it grew too late in the evening. This soup doesn't suffer at all from being cooled and reheated and pairs very well with this roast.