What can I say? I am still living off the dreams of my time in Italy. Each day I wake up wondering what I can do in the kitchen that will make me think I’m still there. I’ve had a beautiful rack of pork in the freezer, just waiting for the right occasion to serve it. Yesterday turned out to be the day and I knew it would also be the perfect time to try and recreate the delectable roasted potatoes I ate on more than one occasion in Lucca.
It’s hard to believe but I’ve never “brined” a piece of meat before. You would think that I would have at least tried brining a turkey, but no. I happened to be browsing through a book by Joyce Goldstein called Enoteca looking for an appetizer when I stumbled upon this recipe for roasting a pork loin. There it was, a recipe that included brining and I knew it was time to give it a go. Who hasn’t had pork at some time or other that was a tad too dry? Supposedly brining was the key to ensuring a moist piece of meat.
The roast was a total success and I am a brining convert. Each and every bite was full of flavor and throughly moist. Will I brine again? Absolutely! And the potatoes, they were everything I had hoped for.
Florentine Pork Roast Loin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup hot water
12 juniper berries, bruised
6 allspice berries, bruised
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
12 coriander seeds
2 teaspoons white or black peppercorns
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
6 cups cold water, or as needed
1 bone-in pork loin roast, 4-5 pounds
6 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
To make the brine, select a deep, non-reactive pan large enough to hold the pork. Combine the sugar, salt and hot water in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add all of the spices and herbs and the other 6 cups of water and stir well. Let cool completely.
Place the pork loin in the pan and pour the brine over the pork. Make sure the pork is covered by the liquid. If it isn’t, add cold water as needed to cover. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the pork from the brine and wipe dry. Sliver 3 garlic cloves and insert the slivers and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary leaves into slits between the bones. Finely mince the rest of the garlic and the rosemary. Combine with salt and pepper to taste and the ground cloves and rub this paste all over the roast. Put the pork into a roasting pan.
Roast the pork for a half hour and then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Roast for about 45 minutes more, then check temperature-it should be about 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before carving. Slice between bones into chops. Serves: 6-8