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Jan 25, 2012 07:59 AM

Pork loin - major fails lately

I used to be able to cook pork loin in a satisfactory way but lately, it all sucks. Roasted, slow cooker, braised. Fortunately, I can salvage the weekend's failure by frying with lots of onions and taco seasoning for burritos. But I have another two chunks of the Costco, burmese python sized loin I cut up and froze.

Any surefire treatments so as to not end up with tasteless, dried meat? Am I doing something wrong?

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  1. I think loin doesn't have anough fat and colagen (as in, almost none) to make braising and slow cooker treatment a good option. I think your best bet is to roast it, being very careful not to let it get overdone, or slice it into medallions and saute it. I love to roast it coated with mustard mixed with herbs (rosemary or thyme usually). You can mix in a bit of honey, maple syrup or pomegranate molasses too if that takes your fancy. If you have one of those remote thermometers that you can set to sound an alarm when it reaches temp, this is the time to use it! I take it out about 135 so carryover takes it to 140 (trichinosis is killed at 137 I am told and anyway these days not an issue except with wild boar). But really and truly the real answer is that it's not your fault, all the fat and taste have been bred out of today's pork.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GretchenS

      This is good advice. The OP's most likely problem is that [s]he is overcooking the loin. It's so lean that it really does not stand up well at all to overcooking. If you roast in a fairly hot oven, you can pull it at 130 or even 125 - the rest will bring the temp up to the high 130s. The lower the oven temperature, the less the internal temperature will rise while the loin is resting.

      Brining can also help.

      OTOH, if you cook it to (rested) 140 or below and it's still too dry for you .... that's a good excuse to start working on your sauce-making, IMO.

      1. re: GretchenS

        This is my feeling, too. I sear on the stove in a stainless steel pan and bake on low temperature and take about about 135 in the same pan. When the roast is resting, I make a gravy in the pan w/ all the drippings (and add vegetables, apples, whatever at this point).

      2. I find that the Costco loins [well all loins from today's pig] need more help. I have taken to butterflying the sucker and then stuffing it with savory goodness. I have found prosciutto, spinach, goat cheese and pine nuts to be a nice option. During the summer, I substitute pesto for the spinach. I think any combination of stuffings that might work well as a salad or pizza topping work inside a loin. I also make sure that I season the inside of the loin before stuffing.

        Then roll and tie before roasting. Maybe this method will get you something that you enjoy more?

        1. Pork loin benefits from being butterflied and stuffed with at least one fatty ingredient (sausage or ground pork or some kind of cheese are nice) and a medley of vegetables or fruits (apples or pears, wild mushrooms, Swiss chard etc). Tie it up and wrap it in some kind of fatty cured meat (bacon, proscuitto, pancetta or whatever). The cut is just too lean without some help in my experience.

          1. Slice, brine, grill, do not over cook ~~ Buy elsewhere next time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Uncle Bob

              That's what we do. We buy the big loins from Sam's Club and slice them into pork chops for individual freezing. Cook them in cast iron on the stove top with a piece of bacon wrapped around them, or bake them with a home made Shake and Bake-like concoction, or cut into chunks marinated in Trader Joe's Island Soyaki and grilled on skewers.

              I use pork shoulder when I want to braise.

              1. re: mtoo

                There is a very good NYTimes recipe for Red Cooked Pork Belly that I have successfully used with pork butt. It might work with loin if some extra fat e.g. bacon fat were added.

            2. Thanks, great suggestions. I will definitely buy a remote thermometer, just when I thought I was full up on kitchen gadgets. For the two remaining loins, I will butterfly one and slice the other into chops to brine. I appreciate the input.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tcamp

                It will be the most fundamental kitchen gadget you will have if you roast or grill.