South Texas weather is famously unpredictable. I always tell people we don't really have climate here, we have only weather. Things change quickly, and it's never the same from year to year, except that you can pretty much count on August being HOT!
Our cool spring weather has lasted a long time this year! There's been a bit of very welcome rain, but mostly it's been overcast, gray skies and cool temperatures. It seems more like it's still the end of winter. When days are like this, I can't help but want to make dishes that feel like the weather, rather than the season.
So, I decided to make a roasted pork loin with potatoes! I know, this is a fall dish-- but once I made a pumpkin pie in July and it was GOOD (When Ben came home that day he said, "Oh, I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving." Ha. Everybody's a comedian.) ! A pork loin can be dry and rather boring because it's such a lean meat. However, a wonderful way to serve it is to "butterfly" it and fill it with a stuffing or seasoning. This makes it cook up moist and very flavorful! Butterflying a pork loin is a skill worth learning because it's not hard, but it make such a pretty presentation that it looks really special!
Well, it IS spring, despite the weather, so instead of a heavy stuffing, I chose to use a veggie and herb puree to season the pork. Making this is a snap in the food processor, but you could use a good blender as well.
What about the roasted potatoes? Can you eat pork without potatoes? I guess, but why would you?! Anyway, this is another one of those easy sides that looks different and fun just because of the way you prepare it. In this recipe, you make cuts in the potatoes almost, but not quite through. They fan out a bit as they roast and come out looking beautifully browned and yummy! You can roast the potatoes along with the pork, or in another dish if your roasting pan isn't big enough.
I hope you're enjoying the most beautiful spring weather where you are, but if you decide to make this dish, I'm pretty sure your family will love it and that no one will say, "But it's April!".
Seasoned Pork Loin (serves 3 or 4)
1 small pork loin roast, about 1.75lbs
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
about 1/4 cup parsley
2 strips lemon zest (remove with veggie peeler)
1 large clove garlic
small sprig rosemary
In a food processor, puree the carrot, onion, parsley garlic and lemon. It should have a fine, paste-like quality. Set aside.
Butterfly the pork loin like this:
Put it on a cutting board with the short end facing you.
Put the pork in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the open pork loin with salt and pepper. Spread the veggie mixture over the loin, but not to the edges. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves.
Fold the loin back up the way it was. The veggie mixture will have a lot of liquid. Just let it go into the baking dish. Tie up the loin with butcher's twine or use those cool silicone bands to hold it together (saw them in a cooking store!). There are ways to tie up the loin according to the experts, but any way that keeps it together will be fine. Turn it fat side up.
Brush the top of the roast with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Run it under a hot broiler about 5 minutes, until the fat is starting to brown. Turn the roast over and broil another 5 minutes. Turn the roast fat side up, add the potatoes if you're including them, and cook at 350F until an internal thermometer registers 140F. Then increase the oven temperature to 450F and continue baking to 160F. This takes about 1.5-2 hrs. total. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you have to pierce the roast and see if all the juices run clear. If they do, then it's done! The roast should be nice and brown.
Let the roast "rest" for 10 minutes or so. Remove the strings and slice. Put some of the yummy juices over each slice and serve!
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise
Make crosswise cuts along the length of each potato, but not quite through the potato. Put them in the baking dish along with the roast if there's room. If not, put them in another dish that's been sprayed with PAM. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook along with the roast. After the roast is taken out, baste the potatoes with the roast's pan juices and run the potatoes under the broiler if they aren't good and browned. They should fan out a bit.