I have been finding boneless center-cut pork roasts in the supermarkets lately. They are inexpensive, delicious, and can be cooked in any number of ways.
The whole pork roast weighs about 8-10 pounds and I buy the entire piece. When I get home I cut it into 3 to 4 roasts to use in many ways. They are great to have in the freezer - perfect for a small dinner party or family treat and make great leftover meals the next day with a few different accompaniments.
I usually brine these small roasts in a cider, salt and sugar combo for at least 4 hours or overnight. I give you the instructions with advice that this is an optional step. Don’t let lack of time for this step keep you from enjoying this great cut of meat.
The recipe I give you for the roast wrapped in prosciutto looks great on the table and would make a perfect Thanksgiving entrée your table.
Brining a Pork Roast
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 quart hot water
- 1 quart cider
Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water and set aside to cool. Place the roast in a non-reactive bowl. Pour the cooled salt and sugar solution and the cider over the roast. The roast should be covered with liquid and if you need to - add some water to bring the level up. Place a plate on the top of the roast to keep it submerged and put it in the refrigerator. Leave for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain the roast and dry it. The pork is now ready to be used in either of the following recipes.
Asian Sauced Pork Roast Wrapped in Prosciutto
It is worth it to use prosciutto in this recipe. You can buy small pre-wrapped 5 or 6 piece packages of this wonderful cured meat at many markets. It is the perfect wrap for this roast. Thin slices of bacon also work well.
Make the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup dry sherry or sake
- ¼ cup Thai sweet chili sauce (can find it in the ethnic specialty dept. of markets)
- 2 garlic cloves – peeled and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer until reduced by at least one quarter. Set aside to use on the roast.
I usually double this recipe and save half for use on any number of future dishes or as a dipping sauce. It lasts forever in the refrigerator.
Prepare the Roast:
- 4-6 lb. center-cut boneless pork roast – brined (optional)
- 6 thin slices prosciutto or one-pound thin sliced bacon
- 1 cup cider
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley – chopped
Place the brined (optional) pork roast in a roasting pan on a rack. Paint the roast all over with the sauce. I even rub it in a little for extra flavor. Sprinkle with the thyme and some coarse ground pepper and rub them in the meat. Paint the top of the roast with the sauce again. Place the pieces of prosciutto or bacon over the roast – covering the whole top. Paint the prosciutto or bacon liberally with the sauce. Add the cider to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Put into a 450-degree oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees, cover the roast and cook for another 40-50 minutes. Keep checking to see the pan has not dried out. Add more liquid (water, chicken stock, or cider) if it has become too thick. You will want to baste the roast a couple of times during the cooking with the liquid from the bottom of the pan.
When the roast is done (should read about 130-140 degrees in the center – right out of the oven), let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving (see notice on the bottom of the page). Strain the liquid in the bottom of the roaster and keep warm. Skim the fat off the top - if it is too thick add a little water and if it seems too thin reduce it a bit in a saucepan. Add some of the sauce you used to baste the pork to these strained pan drippings and reserve for service. To serve - carve across the grain in ½ to ¾ inch pieces and overlap on a serving platter. Pour the sauce down the middle of the pieces and sprinkle the parsley on top.
Pork Loin Roast with Orzo
A boneless pork loin is a great roast to use for this dish. It has a limited amount of fat and creates a nice broth in the bottom of the roasting pan to cook the orzo in.
- 4-6 lb. boneless pork loin roast
- 1 bunch scallions - chopped
- 2 large onions - quartered
- 2 ribs celery - chopped
- 2 carrots - sliced into coins
- 1 branch of fresh rosemary or a teaspoon dried
- 4 cloves of garlic - whole
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 4-5 cups chicken stock
- 12 oz can peeled whole tomatoes - coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. orzo pasta (rice shaped pasta available at most supermarkets)
Combine the olive oil, garlic slices, sugar, basil, oregano, a few of the rosemary leaves, and parsley in a food processor or blender and chop it all together. Spread some of this spice mix on the outside of the roast, coating it evenly. Lay the roast on a rack in a roasting pan and drop the scallions, onions, carrots, and celery around the roast. Pour 3 cups of chicken stock into the bottom of the pan. Cook in a 450-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and cook another 30 to 45 minutes. A non-marbled pork roast like this needs to have a slight pink in the very center – so don’t overcook. A meat thermometer is helpful if you are not familiar with a roast of this sort. Take it out of the oven when the interior temperature is not more than 130 degrees and set it on a plate. The temperature will rise to about 140-150 degrees on its own while it is resting after you take it out of the oven. Set the roast aside*.
Skim the excess fat from the drippings in the pan and add the tomatoes and one more cup of chicken stock. Add the orzo right into the pan and stir in with all the pan drippings and vegetables. Return the pan with the pasta in it to a 325-degree oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes to make sure the pasta is not drying out. Add more chicken stock if necessary. Remove from the oven when the orzo is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. This side dish of pasta is amazingly good.
Slice the pork across the grain in ¾ to 1-inch slices. Put on a platter, pour the juices from the platter the roast was on over the pork, and serve the orzo on the side.
*If when you carve either of these roasts you feel it is too rare (a slight pink is fine) just cover the slices and put them back in the oven for 5 minutes. It will not take long. Better to undercook the roast a bit at first than to dry it out by overcooking. The old-fashioned meat thermometers show pork being cooked at about 170 degrees. Trust me – if you cook it to this temperature you will have a very dry and tasteless roast.