As previously mentioned, I will admit to being somewhat seduced by a loin of pork when shopping in Asda. Now, in my defence, I have to say that this doesn't happen often - but when a simply spanking special offer presents itself, I'd consider it churlish to turn it down.
This is why a salt & cracked black pepper coated pork loin had been roosting in my freezer since last week and how come we had the most splendid Sunday roast.
We had the choice of either plain or the coated pork loins and, although I'd have preferred to have had the plain, wound up with a coated one because it appeared to be the leanest. At a full 1kg, it was a good sized joint to have on a Sunday and yes, I know I'd said I wouldn't be doing a Sunday roast again in a hurry, but like I say, a special offer just can't be refused. (All of this aversion to cooking Sunday roasts has been totally blown out of the water by what arrived this morning - but we'll get to blogging about that on another day!).
Surprisingly, I'd never cooked a loin previously. I've done legs and several shoulders, but never a loin - and having seen them cooked on various t.v. programmes, knew just throwing it in the oven and hoping for the best just wasn't the way to go about it.
A bit of research was required - and it is at moments like this that I wonder what we ever did without the internet. I suppose I'd have telephoned my Mum and taken her advice on the subject. As it was, I looked up various different recipes and opted for the average method for cooking - that of 20 minutes at blisteringly hot, then an hour - covered - at a medium temperature, followed by another 10 minutes at blisteringly hot. We didn't have any crackling to produce, as the skin layer had been removed to let the fat layer take on the salt & pepper. However, this method satisfactorily renders what fat there is and effectively bastes the meat as it cooks.
The resulting roast pork joint was perfectly cooked, being still moist, beautifully tender and with a delightfully crunchy tasty crust.
I served it with roast potatoes, roast parsnips and roast butternut squash, some boiled stringless beans and two cobs of sweetcorn, which I'd separated from their cobs to make eating the kernels easier - oh, and apple sauce, of course.
The gravy was interesting - and fabulous - as in the bottom of the roasting tin was some unctuous dark brown goo that just shrieked "yummy!" at me. So I drained off the fat (into the roast potatoes & parsnips pan) and made the gravy on top of this epitome of roast pork that is so very intensely savoury. I sweated off a small chopped onion and added it to the pan along with some chicken stock (having run out of pork stock, it would appear!). Now don't wince, but I used some Bisto Roast Pork gravy granules to thicken the gravy and wound up with some of the most delicious, dark brown, glossy gravy ever to have graced a table. It was so good, I kept the leftovers for dipping something into the next day. (Probably several dogs' tongues, if I can't find any other use for it - but at least it wasn't wasted!).
ROAST LOIN OF PORK
1kg loin of pork
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat your oven to 220deg C/425deg F/Gas 7.
2. If your pork has its skin left on and you are wanting crackling, dry the skin layer with some kitchen towel, score the skin (if it hasn't already been done for you) with a sharp knife and rub sea salt into the skin. If, alternatively, you aren't bothered about crackling then take a sharp knife and remove the skin layer, leaving a layer of fat on the meat. Sprinkle the fat layer liberally with freshly ground or cracked black pepper and a little salt and pat to make sure it sticks. Drizzle a little olive oil over - but not so much that it washes the salt & pepper off.
3. Place the loin with the fat side uppermost, into a roasting tin that is a suitable size for it and put into the oven for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with tinfoil, then replace, turn the oven down to 170deg C/325deg F/Gas 3 and roast for 30 minutes per 500g - so an hour for a 1kg piece.
5. Remove from the oven and uncover, turn the oven back up to 220deg C/425deg F/Gas 7 and roast again for a maximum of 10 minutes.
6. Remove, cover and place somewhere warm to rest for 15-20 minutes.