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Dry roast pork - what to do with it?

I've about given up on commercial pork loin - it always turns out dry and flavorless. Yes, I know about brining, but to me a brined pork loin tastes like salt water - not an improvement, although it usually is juicy. But that's another issue.

I roasted one last night (actually two tied together to make one large roast), and did everything I could to preserve moisture and flavor - took it out at 139 and let it rest, covered, the whole deal. It still tastes like sheetrock (I exaggerate - it's not really that bad, but it's pretty dry and tough).

The problem is, I've still got a lot of meat left over, that I'm not crazy about the idea of eating. But I don't want to throw it away, either. Any ideas on how to revive it into something delicious? Maybe a nice spicy stew or etouffee-type dish? Please help!

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  1. While I realize that pork loin is not the best choice for chili verde, in order to utilize what you have on hand, maybe you could cut it into chunks and fry it and then simmer it in a chili verde sauce. Adding the extra fat might redeem it's dry condition somewhat, and a rich and spicy sauce would add more interesting flavors.

    1. You can help "bring it back a little by slicing it in 1/2 inches slices and then warming the slices in a mix of marsala, chicken broth or vegetable broth to which some garlic has been added. You'll need enough liquid to cover a little over 1/2.so about 3/8 of an inch in skillet. Heat the liquid first to just below boiling. Add the loin slices and cover the pan..heat 3-4 minutes, flip them and heat another 2 or so. If you want, saute some onion in the skillet before adding the liquids. Serve with a little "pan juice" drizzled over them.

      Another alternative is to rough chop the remainder and make Cornish pasties......or add some BBQ and vinegar and make fake pulled pork sandwiches

      1 Reply
      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

        That sounds great--

        My suggestion, which we did with left over veal shoulder the other night, would be to throw it in a dutch oven with some wine, cream, apples and a shot of calvados, and reheat at a low temp--250-300 for about an hour.

      2. How about topping it with lots and lots of gravy?

        Or maybe dice or cube the pork loin and mix into a salad, omelete, frittata, or fried rice.

        1. What about a crock pot and your favorite style bbq sauce..........maybe thin it with some chix/beef stock and cook it low/slow until able to shred for bbq sandwich's.

          1. Some things I do with dry, leftover meat:

            -Cut in to small pieces, stir fry with garlic, oil and soy sauce then use for fried rice.
            -Slice thinly and add to noodle soup.
            -Slather with bbq sauce and put on a nice kaiser roll

            1 Reply
            1. re: soypower

              i'm liking the soup idea, too. like a chinese hot and sour soup, or like a pho. i'd slice it in thin strips for these purposes, for tenderness (what you can get) and ease of eating.

            2. Too late to help you now, but aside from brining there are two good strategies for dealing with today's tragically lean pork loin, and they both involve adding fat.

              The easiest is to go to Sur le Table or a similar store and buy a larding needle. These are cheap - around $3, mine was. Then cut strips of fat (or mostly fat) from thick slices of decent bacon and run 6 or 8 of these into the roast longitudinally, spacing them more or less equally apart. (Blanch the bacon first if you want to minimize the smoky flavor.) Rub the roast well with salt, pepper, and whatever your favorite dried herb is and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before roasting it at 350º.

              The other strategy is to make a good rich stuffing - the best I've tried was chopped bacon, chopped sautéed mushrooms and small cubes of bread, well seasoned with S&P and herbs and just moistened with some bouillon. You open up the roast like a jelly roll by slicing into it lengthwise, carefully cutting so that you wind up with a flat rectangular piece of meat about 1" thick. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper onto the exposed flesh, then spread the stuffing over the surface evenly. Roll the meat back up and tie it four or five times with cotton string.

              Yes, this is all some trouble, but with these boneless cryovac loins going for around $2/lb some places it's good cheap eats. And I do like the chops I cut off, just seasoned and quickly fried. I usually get two 2 1/2 lb roasts and maybe eight chops from each whole one I buy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Will Owen

                I like both of these ideas. If I ever buy one of these beasts again, I'll keep them in mind. And I probably will, at some point, because as you point out they are cheap eats.

              2. I'd make hash. Then serve with poached eggs.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Felixnot

                  Excellent idea I would do the same or a BBQ pork sandwich

                2. Maybe slice very thinly and make sandwiches.. maybe a garlic mayo or something to add some moisture and flavor..?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: EastBayShortcake

                    yep, my first thought: sandwich! sliced very thinly. mayo, mustard, pickle. add ham and cheese if you want a "cuban" (sans mayo).

                    also, i'd reheat thin slices in some broth or a nice sauce, and serve it over noodles or rice or on a crusty baguette.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      yes what I was thinking about too. One of my best sandwiches that I made on the fly (unexpected guests for lunch) was made with pork loin that I had roasted after marinating in a marinade of balsamic vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Roasted til med slight pink, then sliced thin placed on sweet soft french rolls with avocado, red onion, swiss, and cranberry conserve on one side and pesto on the other side, then placed some lovely red leaf lettuce leaves and severd ice cold red globe grapes alongide with pear slices. It truly was a sandwich made of a little of this and a little of that. But OMG, they raved and raved. Thought it was the best sandwich they'd had. It was sooo yummy... I actually could go for one these just about now.

                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                          Pork or chicken I always heat in broth. I have a box of chicken broth. I add sme herbs, just dried and some broth and heat up if I am eating as a main course or for a sandwich. Sometimes just wrap in foil with some broth and throw in the oven. Even quick and it comes out great. Been doing that since age 12. Still do ... Grama taught me.

                  2. Out of curiosity, I make pork at least once a week. Usually a pork roast or pork loin. I have four methods.

                    I have 2 amazing marinades for the tenderloin which is then grilled, so juicy you don't need a knife.

                    Second beer braised with onions, root vegetables, brandy and fresh herbs, it falls apart.

                    Third, beer and onion with braised mushrooms in the crock pot ... again it falls apart.

                    Fourth, breaded and pan seared and stuffed with mushrooms, cheese, spinach and onions, Served with a Port wine sauce or a white wine sauce either way.
                    All four easy and fork tender. I make them weekly. Please email if you want any of my recipes I will be glad to share. I don't have them all posted yet on my blog but you can reach me a kchurchill5@comcast.net or simplykatering@comcast.net. I hope you give me a shout I would love to share.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      I would like to have your recipies for pork roast that you posted on Jan 2009 about braising. What is your blog address?

                    2. In addition to the reheating in sauce ideas from the other replies, I would probably have my husband make his salad with them (I can't make mayonaise-based salads, but he can and they're fantastic, particularly over a bed of spinach or made into sandwiches).

                      Next time: have you tried coating it first with a dry rub and then with mustard (I like Maille and get their huge jar 1-2x per year), leaving that overnight, then roasting? Or marinating it in pineapple juice (orange never worked for me, but pineapple tenderized it and allowed for a caramelized crust)?

                        1. Looks like folks have you covered on your original question. I just wanted to talk about the "brining makse things taste like salt water". I've never had that happen. What do you put in your brines? Brines are wonderful opportunities to introduce all sorts of flavours to the meat. When I'm bringing pork, I like to use bitter orange juice in the brine, but I've been flirting with the idea of pineapple an probably will try that next time. I also use hot pepper to spice it up a bit. My point being brining that, IMO, brining shouldn't be just salt water, and I wonder if that's what you've been using.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: Morganna

                            oooh, my favorite marinade: cuban mojo with sour orange. sooo succulent! http://www.recipezaar.com/Traditional...

                            btw, ther's a thread around that gives a substitute for the sour orange, and rick bayless has a good "recipe": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/525528

                            1. re: alkapal

                              There's also the Dr. Pepper brine, although I haven't tried it yet. Better for a shoulder than for a loin, I think.

                              The pineapple is good on its own (really--no salt needed), with habaneros and ginger, or basil and lemongrass...

                              1. re: Caralien

                                you're right. marinades like mojo love a good pork shoulder or butt or loin. the tenderloins are so lean nowadays. http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatPorkLoin....

                                this is for all the pork meat cuts: http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatPork.html
                                the last category cracks me up for some reason: "miscellaneous pork cuts These cuts come from all over the pig." http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatPorkMisc....

                                tyler florence just this morning did the "ultimate cuban sandwich" using a mojo braise-in-the-pressure-cooker technique: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...

                                1. re: Caralien

                                  A brine and a marinade aren't the same thing. For true brining, you need salt because it is the difference in salt levels in the fluids that cause the transfer across cell walls.

                                  1. re: Morganna

                                    usually marinades have salt, but not as much as a brine. i never brine my pork, anyhow. marinate? yeah, buddy!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I love the flavour that brining imparts to boneless chops and loin roasts. :) I've never felt that marinades did what I wanted them to. :) I like the whole thing being infused. :)

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I love different marinades. Tried brining, good but I enjoy marinades more. I have a whole list.

                                2. re: Morganna

                                  Yes, salt water is pretty much what I've been using. I think the recipe I've used had a small amount of sugar also, and I put in some garlic and onions, because I automatically add garlic and onions to everything, but it still tasted mostly like... salt water. No, I haven't tried any fruit juices; pineapple sounds interesting because, I think I've heard, it has natural tenderizing properties. Or is that papaya?

                                  1. re: Bat Guano

                                    Both pineapple and papaya have strong enzymes which help in the tenderizing process. I personally don't like papayas, as they smell like armpits to me and taste worse, but lots of people adore them as a fruit and recipe ingredient.

                                3. I just posted a suggestion to use leftover roast pork in fried rice but I have a suggestion regarding the cooking technique. My husband found a pork tenderloin recipe he wanted to try (it was on a different recipe group - Allrecipes- ) but the basic cooking technique produced a really moist roast. The tenderloins are cleaned up, silver skin and fat removed, and then are slathered with dijon mustard. They can hang out or go right into a frying pan and brown in a tablespoon of oil. Then they go into a 350 oven for about 20 minutes- use your meat thermometer. The recipe went on to make a marsala cream sauce but the pork was perfect and we had three meals out of it- it was still moist to the end.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ginnyhw

                                    I also make one like this, good recipe as well. I do rosemary, garlic and mustard and then make either a white wine or marsala sauce. Ditto, nice flavor.

                                  2. I just made a pork tenderloin en croute. It was moist and more flavourful. The pork was rubbed with herbs and salt, browned, then cooled. Roll out puff pastry and place tenderloin on it and slather on grainy mustard and some sauteed mushrooms. Cover with pastry and cook at 400 for about 15-20 minutes.

                                    1. Thanks, all! You guys are the best - some really good ideas here. I'm leaning toward the fried rice or reheating in broth, mostly because those are techniques that I hardly ever use, and I figure if they can make this stuff taste good, then I'll have learned something useful.

                                      I did use up some of it by mixing it with potatoes, eggs and hot sauce for breakfast, and the rest is in the freezer awaiting further instructions (which probably won't help it any, but that's the way the pork loin bounces).

                                      In the meantime I did a lovely piece of free-range Berkshire pork shoulder, from the farmer's market, in the smoker for 8 hours yesterday, and I think this will be my preferred solution to the pork dilemma from now on. It is sooooo good.... almost seems like a different animal. (well, in a way it IS a different animal.) Much more expensive, is the downside.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: Bat Guano

                                        BTW.....although the holidays are over, I always re-heat my turkey in some broth as well. It keeps it nice and moist

                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                          me too or even just a little chicken or veggie broth, whatever I have on hand. Makes a great way to reheat.

                                        2. re: Bat Guano

                                          Shoulder is more expensive than loin? You may have to find a different supplier, as shoulder (picnic, butt, boston butt) is generally the cheapest cut.

                                          1. re: Caralien

                                            Everyday prices from the butcher sections are lower for shoulder than for loin, but the whole boneless loins in cryovac packaging from the big meat houses are always around $2/lb at Costco, and frequently go on sale at supermarkets here for around that price. Through tomorrow at Vons they're $1.97/lb, for instance, while bone-in butt is $2.49.

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              Yeah, shoulder is generally less than loin from commercial sources, but my free-range, heritage breed shoulder cut from a local farmer was more than the cheap, on-sale Costco loin. Worth it, though.

                                              1. re: Bat Guano

                                                I don't use Costco, so couldn't compare to there. At Cherry Grove Farms, the heirloom pork shoulders are on par with the loin prices ($8-10/lb):

                                                while at Simply Grazin the tenderloin is 3X the price of the shoulder ($25.50/lb vs $8.75/lb):

                                                At Wegman's, I usually get the shoulder on sale, last week it was $.69-.79/lb

                                                1. re: Caralien

                                                  I use my local stores. Would love the local whole foods and other gourmet markets but honestly can't afford it. I get 2 nice tenderloins for 11.00. Great price value and I love them. I would love oranic and fresh but, single working mom, just can't.

                                                  I use coupons, and what is on sale, but always try to use fresh when I can. I put a fresh meal with fruit, vegetables, grilled meat. NO fried fast food and healthy salads every night on the table. It may not be organic or from whole foods but it is definitely healthy and way better than Mc Donalds. However don't get me wrong. I still love my egg McMuffin. I know but I do. I too like junk food, love healhy food, love great cooking but love greasy cooking too. We all have out weaknesses.

                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                    Jaccard the thing and give it a day or two marinating in mango or apricot nectar (can in the "enthnic" section), then season and roast at a high temperature to 140F or so.

                                                    But they're so lean I don't even fool with them anymore.

                                          2. You're cooking it too long/too high a temp.

                                            I've skimmed these posts very quickly so I don't know if I'm repeating anyone, but roasting to 139 is too high. Commercial pork roasts like these carry over 10+ degrees easily. Mine often amaze me and carry over sometimes more than 15 degrees. I don't know what it is about pork loins like this, but that's my experience.

                                            I would take the thing out at about 125. It will probably rise to 139-140 which is your target temperature for moist, rosy pork.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: HaagenDazs

                                              Well 160 is recommended, I like mine pink to and usually remove at 140. 125 NO way for me. Mine at 140 is always pink and juicy.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                You can follow the government guidelines if you want but do understand that standards published by food authorities are inflated for legal reasons. In other words if someone tells you to cook pork to 110 degrees and the public gets sick because of it, the people who told you to cook it to that temp are potentially to blame. Of course I'm exaggerating on the temperature there, but you get the idea.

                                                Removing at 140 will cause it to rise to about 150-155. Pretty damn close to 160. Leave the thermometer in the roast once you take it out next time and watch it. You don't have to re-post here and tell me what it rises to, but I think you'll be surprised. Removing at 125 = about 140.

                                                Do you understand carry-over cooking?

                                                1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                  I'm a chef for 5 years and a caterer ... yes I understand perfectly. Usually 140 gives me 150 - 155. Which is what I prefer and most of my clients prefer. I nice medium but no blood but very juicy.

                                              2. re: HaagenDazs

                                                That makes sense. And that's about the temp I take out beef, so why not pork, too? Thanks!

                                                1. re: Bat Guano

                                                  There's so much less fat in standard grocery store pork too so the comparison of the two, while somewhat valid, will not produce the same results. Basically, you're cooking a protein that has more in common with boneless skinless chicken breast than with beef.

                                                  In other words, you'll get a higher/longer carry over time with pork than you will with beef (in my experience) so it's not like you'll be eating medium rare pork, it will be medium for sure, but it won't be mushy. Of course the size of the roast and whether or not it has bones, etc will influence the temp and carry over.

                                                  Give it a try. There's plenty of opportunity to experiment because it's relatively cheap.

                                                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                    So less fat = more carry-over cooking? I did not know that.

                                                    Another problem was that I roasted it at relatively high temp - 425, because I was in a hurry, so that probably caused more carry-over than if I'd roasted at a more sane 350 or so.

                                                    Thanks, HD - I always like to learn something new!

                                                    1. re: Bat Guano

                                                      I always roast high first then reduce to 350 and then cook for a few minutes more. Grandma always cooked like that I do. 3 chefs that I worked with did the same. I take out 20 degree under always, rule of thumb nothing more. In 20 years of restaurant cooking. Never failed me or any of my colleagues.

                                                      If cooking at home in a standar oven 15 and usually raises up 140-145 to make it 160. Sometimes on the toast and the thickness 145-150 Got to be a bit flexible. Depends on the cut of meat. Never 125.

                                                      1. re: Bat Guano

                                                        Less fat = less insulation so it cooks faster. I'm not sure if it automatically means more carry over time in all things but for pork loin it happens for me. The size of the roast matters too. For instance, a boneless skinless chicken breast is pretty lean but it's smaller so the carry over will be less.

                                                2. This happened to my mom recently with a pot roast (beef.) She forgot about it in the oven, and it turned out like a stump. When I came over the next day and heard about this tragedy, I dutifully resuscitated the roast by shredding the meat and simmering in liquid to make a delicious taco filling. I think there was onions, garlic, orange juice, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, Mex oregano, various chile powders, and some sherry vinegar. The meat was very tender, although that roast ended up quite a different dish than it began its life as. Throw that meat on a tortilla with some cilantro, maybe onion, and fresh salsa of your choice. For your pork roast, maybe a tomatillo-chipotle salsa...

                                                  1 Reply