Porcine in the Fall
From the lyrical nature of his dish’s name, our emcees could tell that Bob O’Brien has a penchant for poetry. And from the sophisticated methods he used to prepare his rosemary- and garlic-infused pork loin—including scoring the fat cap and trussing the roast with butcher’s string—our judges knew that the home cook possesses time-tested talent. O’Brien relies on this classic recipe from his German-born mother (who sometimes added fennel-tinged sauerkraut) every winter when he’s entertaining loved ones. To complement the savory herbed pork, he typically plates the slices with baby potatoes and balsamic string beans.
- 1 (5- to 6-lb.) free-range pork loin, bone-in, split horizontally at the bottom (Caw Caw Creek recommended)
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- Fresh rosemary sprigs, divided
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 1/4 tsp. pepper, divided
- 1 tsp. onion power
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. dried ground rosemary
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. salted butter
- 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 12-14 oz. water
- 3 oz. orange juice, optional
1 oz. dried cranberries, optional
Preheat oven to 375°F. Between split bone and upper portion of pork loin, insert crushed garlic cloves, three sprigs of rosemary, and a quarter teaspoon each salt and pepper. Score fat side in a criss-cross cut.
Combine remaining salt and pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground rosemary. Roll pork loin in mixture, patting it on gently. Using butcher’s string, tie roast at both ends and in center, securing top to bottom.
On stove top, heat olive oil and butter in roasting pan and sear fat side of pork loin.
Place roasting pan in oven and roast pork loin for one hour. Reduce temperature to 325°F and continue roasting until internal temperature at the center reaches 165°F, approximately 45 minutes.
Take out of oven and remove pork loin from roasting pan. Remove bottom bone from pork loin, place bone on a foil-covered baking sheet, and place in oven. Cover pork loin loosely with foil and let rest at room temperature.
To make the gravy, remove fat from roasting pan using a spoon, heat remaining drippings in pan on stove, then add flour to pan. Stir flour into pan juices until totally absorbed, creating a paste. Whisk in water gradually so as not to create lumps, yielding a thin mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is reduced by half and is of pleasing gravy consistency. (If pork flavor is not intense enough, add orange juice and dried cranberries to enhance flavor.)
To serve, carve loin into two-inch portions. Plate with bottom bone portion and gravy. Garnish with rosemary sprig.