My parents visited last weekend and I cooked my pants off for Sunday Supper! I accepted Bon Appétit’s October “cook the cover” challenge and made something I’d never before attempted; a cider-brined pork roast.
The photo on Bon Appétit’s cover screams Autumn – which was perfect for the chilliest Fall weekend we’ve had so far in Nashville. First things first, drive to 3 different grocery stores in search of anchovy olives for Dad’s martini. (Thank you Whole Foods!) Secondly, I phoned up the fellas over at Porter Road Butcher and put my order in a few days ahead of time for an 8-bone pork loin roast (mine weighed 6 lbs), with the chine bone removed, the rib bones frenched, and then finally, tied back together with kitchen twine. I had no idea what most of that last sentence meant, other than the “frenched” part, (and no, it had nothing to do with kissing). Luckily, PRB knew what was up and they gave me a beautiful pork loin.
My father was pretty skeptical about brining the meat, and worried about too much salt. Since pork is notoriously tough, however, an overnight brine really helps to make the meat moister. I am sure there is a long-winded physics explanation about osmosis and salt ions diffusing the cells, but let’s just say that brining makes your meat super tender and juicy, k? So the night before you are going to cook your cider-brined pork roast, bring a cup of brown sugar, a cup of salt, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, and 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan until the salt and sugar are dissolved. It takes about 10 minutes. Dump the brine into a large bowl, fill it with your apple cider and 2 cups of ice. Find the extra big ziplock bags at the grocery store, (I found 3 gallon ones!) and place the pork roast inside the bag. When the ice has melted in your cider brine, pour it into the ziplock bag over the pork. Zip it and let it sit overnight, or at least 8 hours. You’ve just worked hard, go make yourself a martini! (Anchovy olives are optional.)
Ok, now it’s day 2! Remove your pork from the brine and give it a little rinse. Pat it dry with paper towel and let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. This is the part in BA’s recipe where it says to crush coriander seeds with your knife and rub them all over your pork roast. I only had ground coriander, and it worked fine, imparting a really floral lovely taste to the pork. So get 2 tablespoons of ground (or crushed seeds) coriander and mix it with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Rub liberally all over the pork loin.
Grab a huge skillet, drizzle olive oil, and heat on medium. Sear the pork roast, browning it on all sides. This step should take 10-12 minutes. Employ your mother to scrub potatoes while you sear!
While your roast is searing in your skillet (or makeshift pan), toss your potatoes and onions in the roasting pan you’ll be using with olive oil until they are all coated; season liberally with salt and pepper. Transfer the seared pork roast to the roasting pan, nestling it among the potatoes and onions. Tuck 6 bay leaves beneath the kitchen twine and wrap the frenched bone tips with foil to prevent burning.
Roast at 425 for 60-75 minutes. Set a timer and make sure you stir the potatoes and onions halfway through the cooking process. Remove the foil when you have 20 minutes left to go so the bones get nicely browned. Since our roast was a little bigger than the BA recipe’s roast (6 lbs instead of 5 lbs) we let it go 20 minutes past the 75 minutes until the thermometer read 140 degrees.
Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Remove the twine and serve the bone with the chop, as it is full of gnawingly great flavor!
Have a meatmaster slice your chops and he will be super excited about how awesomely they turned out…
Serve the chop with your roasted potatoes and onions and be sure to drizzle the pan juices over the pork and potatoes. I added my Rolf & Daughter’s inspired brussels sprout salad on the side, and of course we also had to also have apple sauce!
Cider-Brined Pork Roast with Potatoes & Onions
Cook time: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes
- 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 fresh bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 1 quart unfiltered apple cider
- 1 8-bone pork loin roast (5-6 lbs), chine bone removed, rib bones drenched, and tied with kitchen twine
- baby potatoes, both multi-colored and yukon gold, unpeeled, left whole
- 2 medium red onions, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 medium vidalia onions, cut into 8 wedges
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Method: 1. Bring 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup kosher salt, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon coriander, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until salt and sugar are completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. Transfer brine to a large bowl, add apple cider and 2 cups of ice cubes. Set aside. 2. Place pork in a super large ziplock baggie and once the ice cubes have melted in your brine, pour over the pork. Seal and store in the refrigerator at overnight or at least 8 hours total. Pork can be left in brine for up to 2 days before cooking. 3. Remove pork from ziplock and rinse off brine in sink. Pat dry with paper towels and let sit at room temp for at least an hour. 4. In your roasting pan, mix your cleaned potatoes and onions with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure they are well-coated with the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper and set aside. 5. Place your oven rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 425. Mix the other 2 tablespoons of ground coriander with the teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of ground black pepper. Rub liberally all over the pork loin roast. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a huge skillet and sear the roast on all sides until well-browned. 10-12 minutes. 6. Transfer browned roast to roasting pan and nestle in among the potatoes and onions. Tuck the remaining 6 bay leaves beneath the kitchen twine over the top of the pork. Wrap the bone’s ends in foil and roast at 425 for 60 – 75 minutes, stirring potatoes and onions halfway through, until an instant read thermometer reads 140. My 6 lb roast took an hour and a half. Remove foil from bones when 20 minutes remain. 7. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before slicing. 8. Collect accolades and marriage proposals.