Even Santa Barbara feels like winter these days. Cool days and even cooler nights lead to thoughts of warm fires and warm roasted meats. One of my favorite meats to roast is a bone-in pork loin. Full of flavor, but still a healthy cut of meat, it lends itself as a blank canvas for a never-ending array of flavors. As a girl who loves complex recipes, this one is surprisingly simple but full of complex flavors (and that would be the bourbon). Best of all, I generally have all ingredients on hand at any given time. Throw it in the marinade the night before, or morning, and roast away when you get home. The apple cider brine makes the pork juicy and imparts great flavor, while the glaze gives a sweet, salty, warm outer coating as the pork slowly roasts. Pair it with cinnamon apples, mashed potatoes, and a salad and you have an amazing meal that will warm your soul from the inside out!
Note: Whenever you cook with alcohol, be it wine, whiskey, or beer; always cook with something you would also drink by itself. Cooking will just intensify the flavor, so if you start with crap, then your dish will end up tasting like it.
While roasting is an easy and painless way to prepare this meat, you can also cut up the roast into pork chops. Whether using a boneless or bone-in roast, simply marinate the meat as usual, then slice it into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces and throw them on a grill. Add the glaze as desired and you have a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
For the marinade:
1 3 to 4 pound bone-in pork loin roast (you can also use boneless)
2 cups sparkling apple cider
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 bay leaves, crushed or torn
For the glaze:
1 cup bourbon (I like the flavor of Makers Mark for this glaze)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
- Wash and pat dry the pork roast. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade. Mix it well. Place the roast in the marinade, cover, and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove roast from the marinade and place on a roasting rack. I love using just a simple cookie sheet, lined with aluminum foil, with a metal cookie rack sitting on top. Essentially, a do-it-yourself roasting pan. If you have a roasting pan, use it; if not, then this is a great alternative. Note: always line the roasting pan with foil. It will save hours of cleanup time!
- Combine all ingredients for the glaze. Spoon or brush about 1/4 of the glaze over the meat and place roast in the oven. Cook the roast for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 164 degrees for medium doneness, or 174 for well done (my preference). Tip: to have a perfectly cooked roast, remove the meat about 5 degrees shy of the desired temperature. The meat will continue to cook as it rests before carving.
- Allow the roast to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with cinnamon apples, mashed potatoes, and a green salad and you are good to go! Leftovers are awesome as a sandwich the next day! Enjoy!