This is my first post in a long time. By late 2011, posting had become more work than fun, so I took a sabbatical for a while. I am back because of some recipe requests from friends on Facebook.
We got a couple of nice eggplant with our produce delivery last week, so I started by trying to figure out what to do with those. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, and I typically favor very simple preparations, like grilling or broiling. These were pretty large, however, and grilling or broiling typically work best with smaller eggplant. I decided on eggplant parmesan, and settled on pork and a simple salad to accompany it. I’ll explain more about the eggplant later.
The roast is a 6 pound, bone-in pork loin from the Fresh Market. The next time I make it, I will use a 4 pound roast instead, because the center took a little too long to cook through. I brought the roast home and got it into the following brine immediately.
- 2 liters water
- 200 grams salt
- 5 or 6 cloves garlic, smashed in their skins
- 15 or 20 whole black peppercorns
- 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 kilograms ice
Bring the water and all other ingredients almost to a boil to dissolve salt completely. Select a tupperware container or bowl deep enough to hold the roast, ice, and water and put the ice inside. Pour the brine mixture over the ice and stir to combine. Put the roast into the brine and place the whole thing in the refrigerator. How long to brine? I posed that question to Michael Ruhlman on Twitter, and he suggested 8 hours. I only had 4 hours, so 4 hours worked for me.
For anyone out there asking , “METRIC- w.t.f!”, please accept my assurances that I’m not trying to be some euro-snob. I use Ruhlman’s iPhone app called Ratio for brines. The ratio for this brine is 5% salt to water or 1 part salt to 20 parts water. The app will calculate whatever units you like, but metric is easy to work with. A liter of water is the same as a kilogram of ice, so measuring is very simple. The brine improves the dish, but it’s not mandatory, so skip it if you don’t want to mess with it. If you want to brine, use 4 quarts of water and 3/4 cup salt, and you should be pretty close. The other ingredients are all optional.
After brining for up to 8 hours, remove the roast, rinse under cool water, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Preheat the over to 450 degrees. Apply the following seasoning mixture all over the roast:
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
- If you didn’t brine, add at least a couple of tablespoons kosher salt, but omit additional salt if you brined
Put the roast into a deep, heavy skillet or a shallow roasting pan and place into the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, baste with 1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine, and reduce heat to 325 degrees. I basted with wine, but will use stock next time to yield richer pan juices. Continue to roast, basting with 1/4 cup additional liquid (stock or wine) every 15 minutes. If juices start to accumulate on the bottom of the pan, baste with those instead of adding liquid. A 4 pound roast should be done in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer. It should register 145 degrees in the center of the roast. DO NOT OVERCOOK! It will carryover cook after you remove it from the oven.
Let the roast rest at least 10 minutes before carving, but 15 or even 20 minutes would be better. Carve through the loin side first (opposite the bones), and then slide a thin-bladed knife through the joints between the bones to separate. You could also remove the bones as a unit and present the boneless roast and ribs separately, like with a standing rib roast. Send me a comment if you want more detail.
The roast was terrific, but the eggplant parmesan was a show-stopper. It was VERY simple. A layer of tomato sauce (I used Pomi straight from the carton) topped with eggplant, topped with low-moisture, e.g., Kraft, mozzarella, Reggiano parmesan, and torn basil leaves. Repeat with sauce, eggplant, cheeses, and basil and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. To prepare the eggplant, dredge in flour and sauté in olive oil in hot skillet until browned on both sides. Season with pepper as it cooks. Drain on paper towels and layer as described above.
Sorry the eggplant pic isn’t better. We were all pretty hungry by the time it came out of the oven.
The recipes for the pork and eggplant came from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook EverythingiPhone app. It is probably the single most useful cooking reference I have. Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with the braised chicken recipe one day soon.