Driving home in a heavy rainstorm, we stopped in Manchester at The Vermont Butcher, where Margaret and Tom shop, to get some meat so we could just squirrel in with good books when we got home instead of making our weekly trek to Guidos in Pittsfield. Among other meats, including the hard-to-find-around-here chicken livers, we got a beautiful boneless heritage pork loin roast with a thick covering of creamy white fat.
All of a sudden, the weather has changed. The temperature has dropped. The heat was on when I got out of bed yesterday morning. The leaves have turned color and are falling at a rapid rate. We're sashaying into winter with an autumn cozy and beautiful enough to take our minds off what it will be like in February when the holidays are over, the ground is covered in snow, and the thermometer reads MINUS 14 F.
I love summer. Who doesn't? But I'm always happy on the first day I get out my gloves, look for my favorite sweater, and think it might be time to pull on a pair of tights. That day was yesterday, and my thoughts turned to a change in the kind of food I've been cooking for almost four months, which is why I was so happy to have that pork roast waiting to be cooked.
When Tom makes his constantly-requested pork rib roast with the chine removed, he seasons it with Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper. That's it. No garlic. Since I didn't have a jar of Herbes de Provence, I looked up what that is and found the recipe on marthastewart.com. I didn't make a whole batch, just a pinch of each of the ingredients, going a little heavier on what I like best, leaving out the lavender. I took the pork roast out of the refrigerator, patted it dry, added my little mixture, kosher salt, and black pepper, and let it sit for about an hour until it got to room temperature.
I preheated the oven the 450 degrees, put a round cake rack in my 12-inch cast iron skillet, set the roast on it, and put it in the oven. When it was done and had rested for a few minutes, I had fabulous drippings, and juices, and glorious goo in the bottom of the skillet, which I used, after defatting, to bathe some homemade cavatelli. With some garlicky sautéed spinach, dinner was a perfect end to the meals of summer.
Boneless Pork Loin Roast
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
If this serves more than 4 people, I'll eat my hat.
A 2 to 3-pound boneless pork loin roast (not a pork tenderloin)
1 tablespoon (or up to 2 tablespoons if you like) Herbes de Provence*
Salt and pepper to taste
1-½ cups of white wine or chicken broth
Take the roast out of the refrigerator, dry, and pat on the Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper to taste. You want the roast to come to room temperature, which will take about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. (My oven takes a long time to get there as it is fueled by propane.)
Put the roast on a rack in a pan. (I used a round rack that I use to cool cakes and put it in a 12-inch black iron skillet.) Place in the preheated oven, and cook for 15 minutes.
Open the oven door, reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and very carefully, watching out for steam, pour ½ cup of white wine or chicken broth over the roast. Continue to cook at 325 degrees, checking every 15 minutes; if the bottom of the pan is dry, add a little more liquid. The meat can be basted, but mine had such a luxurious covering of fat that I didn't have to.
Depending on the size, the roast will cook anywhere from 1-¼ to 2 hours. Mine took 1-½ hours to reach the recommended 145 degrees. I started checking it with my Thermapen at 1-¼ hours.
Let rest for about ten minutes. Carve into thin slices. We ate it right away, but I think it would be excellent at room temperature.
You can use the pan juices to make a gravy with some more of the wine or chicken broth if you like. I just poured off the fat and swirled my cooked cavatelli in the pan. The roast was so juicy, it didn't need any gravy or jus at all.
*I used just a pinch each of these dried herbs, going a little bit heavier on the rosemary and oregano: