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Thursday, October 3, 2013

the perfect pork loin

over the past few weeks i told mr p we were not allowed to buy any more meat until we used up ALL of it that's in the freezer.  it's like we were collecting it or something, because we ate freezer meat for WEEKS! yikes! ok ok well the last week we were practically vegetarians, as i noticed mr p was buying big blocks of cheese and making fancy grilled cheese sammiches in his panini press in lieu of eating the last pieces of meat in the freezer. 

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two weekends ago we found a longer-than-arms-length long pork loin at BJ's for $1.50/lb.... SO cheap we couldn't pass it up.  so i caved, the pork loin was cheap, lean, and it's so versatile i knew we wouldn't get sick of eating the same thing for a week straight. but how many times have you made dry pork loin? how many times have you ordered pork loin at a restaurant (even fancy ones!) and received a dry chunk of cardboard?

mr p has a 2-step solution for you:

1. brine the meat
2. use a meat thermometer (this isn't the first time i'm telling you this!)


this is what we did with our longer-than-arms-length pork loin:

step 1: mr p cut it in half and brined the whole thing using a recent recipe from bon appetit using apple cider (hellloooo apple season!)  you basically just mix the ingredients in a pan over heat long enough to dissolve the sugar, let it cool, put it into a container with the pork so that it 100% covers the pork, and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

** after brining, we sliced one half of the pork loin into 1.5" slices and froze for a quick and easy dinner later! but because it is already brined, it already has flavor and juiciness.  when we defrost it later we just have to cook it on the stove and it's done!  we cut it thick enough that it's enough meat for 1 meal for 2 people**

step 2: remove the pork, pat dry, and add the dry-rub to the pork on all sides. we used the dry-rub mix from the bon appetit recipe i mentioned, but we added some brown sugar to give it a little extra sweetness.

step 3: put a digital thermometer into the meat, making sure the tip of the thermometer is as close to the center as possible, and bake at 425-degrees until the thermometer reaches 140 degrees (this temp should be used for all pork!).  we have a digital thermometer (similar to this one) that goes off like a timer when it reaches a particular temperature. it's SO nice and stress-free since you won't need to keep checking the thermometer. pork is perfectly "done" at 140-degrees, and will continue to cook even when you take it out of the oven.  once you get good with the timing, you can remove it from the oven a few degrees before your thermometer reaches 140 and you will end up hitting that sweet spot of being perfectly done

step4: let it rest! it needs to cool down a bit before you slice right into it, otherwise it will lose all the yummy goodness that makes it juicy! we let ours sit for about 15 minutes.

step 5: slice it and eat!  we sliced ours in about 1-inch slices for the first meal. then after dinner, or after the pork had a chance to fully cool down, mr p sliced the rest of it in VERY thin slices so he could eat it like deli meat for sammiches!

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i never used to buy big cuts of meat like this, because it looks so intimidating in the grocery store!! well i'm here to tell you it's the way to go, even for households of just 2 people, like us.  if you use a meat thermometer, you take out all of the stress of "is it done, i don't know, maybe i should cut into it, oh no i cut into it and now it's dry, crap how do i save it now, let's just get take-out".  if you are creative with the ways you serve it, you can cut your prep time in half, and still have a different meal each night.  this recipe alone is good for eating just sliced with collard greens or roasted veggies, thinly sliced for deli meat in sammiches, cubed and tossed onto salads, julienned and put on tacos.... and all this can be made with leftovers AFTER you cook the meat!

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(this was a thawed-and-pan-cooked, 1.5" slice, sliced again into smaller slices after cooking, served on top of sautéed collard greens. the BBQ sauce on the side was intended for the pork, but it already had enough flavor that i ended up using the BBQ sauce on the greens instead!)

now got for it, tackle your fears of the big cuts of meat! ...and impress your eaters too.

cheers!
jenn

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