Monday, January 7, 2013

Pork Loin Roast, Good for Any Occasion

I got an idea a few days ago for making a pork loin roast. I wanted a rub, but what kind? I wanted a little bit of sweet, but not too much, so I used brown sugar. I thought of using cocoa in it, as I love foods using cocoa, not as a sweet element, but in the concept of a mole poblano kind of way. I wanted smokiness, because we both love that, so I put in smoked paprika and Spanish sweet paprika. Then what other things would give the kinds of flavors I was looking for? I add in a lot of freshly ground pepper, because I love pepper, and it gives a little bite. Ginger has a little of its own bite and zip. Coriander seeds give great flavor, and then a little cumin. I added in a little ancho chili powder for a little more zip. I could have added chipotle powder but didn't want it to be too hot for my guests. If I knew guests loved heat with their spice, I would certainly add that in.

Sweet Cocoa Rubbed Pork Loin Roast
I went to work, adding this and that, tasting the outcome to see how it fared. It was really good, so I proceeded with that as my recipe for Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub

Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub

Makes 1 1/3 cups rub mix

¾ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika, preferably Spanish
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika (Pimienta de la Vera)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional
¾ teaspoon ground cumin

Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. If storing, use an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place away from heat or light.

Then for the pork loin

Loins can end up tough and dry because the meat in the center is so lean. Two things that were crucial in my mind is to get the flavor to the middle of the meat, and to roast it correctly so it would stay juicy and succulent. In order to get flavor to the middle, I decided to cut the 4 1/2 pound roast open in a spiral, so it would lay flat. My reason for this was to rub on a paste of garlic, minced thyme and olive oil to the inside of the roast. I then took 3 or 4 tablespoons of the rub mix and sprinkled it over the paste and rubbed it in. I sprinkled on a couple teaspoons of Kosher salt and rolled the meat back to its original shape. Using kitchen twine, I tied the loin in about 6 places or so to keep it together while it roasted. I rubbed a lot more of the spice rub on the outside and sprinkled with more Kosher salt. I set this in the refrigerator overnight.

Now it was ready for the oven. To roast fast at high temperature or low and slow? I opted for low and slow, setting the oven at 325 degrees. My plan was to roast for an hour, then lay bacon strips over the top of the roast for the remainder of time. I added the bacon too late (it was quite thick sliced), so it didn't even get done before the roast registered 150 on my thermometer. Looking back, I could easily have fried the bacon and laid the strips on the inside of the roast when I was seasoning it, and would certainly try that next time. As it was, I had to fry the bacon a little bit more to get it done completely. I removed the roast when it hit 150 degrees, tented it with foil and left it to rest while I finished preparing the side dishes. My Sweet Cocoa Rubbed Pork Loin Roast came out well flavored, moist and succulent. Just as I hoped.

Sweet Cocoa Rubbed Pork Loin Roast 

Succulently juicy and tender, the rub gives rich cocoa and smoky flavor. More smoky-spicy heat could be attained by adding chipotle powder to the rub mix.

Serves 10 to 12

1 (4½ pound) pork loin roast
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
¾ to 1 cup Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub
3 - 4 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 strips thick sliced bacon, optional
Butcher's twine, for tying

Sweet Cocoa Rubbed Pork Loin Roast


To distribute flavor all through the meat, using a good sharp chef knife, start at the lower edge of the length of the roast and slice in horizontally, about 1-inch up from the bottom, the entire length of the meat, until you are about at 1-inch from the other edge. Leave the bottom flat, lift the center of the meat and slice horizontally again, continuing until the entire piece of meat is approximately 1-inch thick. Do not worry if the meat is not perfectly flat. Lay the meat open.

Mix together the thyme, garlic and olive oil into a paste and spread this over the open meat. Sprinkle on about 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, then rub in about 4 tablespoons of the Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub. At this point, if desired, fry the optional bacon strips and then lay them lengthwise on the meat. Roll the meat back into its original position, and tie at about 2-inch intervals along the length of the meat. Trim ends of the twine.

Sprinkle 6 to 8 tablespoons more of the Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub over the entire outside of the roast. Sprinkle on more Kosher salt.

About 2½ - 3 hours before the roast will be served, have the oven at 300 degrees with a rack positioned so the roast will be in the center of the oven. Use a thermometer placed into the center of the meat to monitor the temperature. Place the roast on a rack in a pan and place in oven for approximately 2 - 2¼ hours, or internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven and tent with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Remove twine, slice into about 1-inch thick slices and serve.

NOTES: I did not use the bacon inside the roast, but instead placed the raw bacon strips, cut in half, over the top of the roast about 1 hour into the roasting time. Doing this again, I will put the bacon inside, allowing each slice to have some rolled inside it.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.