Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do what with the what, now?

Since Sweetie got me to start eating pork ten years ago - mostly because he couldn't face ONE MORE piece of chicken - I've developed a fondness for roast piggie.

It's similar to the wonderful Chili Glazed Pork Roast, but my hand to God I've never heard of leaving a defenseless, uncovered roast open to whatever vagaries happen behind a closed refrigerator door. Weird. And suspect.

But, you know, it's not a good idea to close myself off to learning new things. I'd hate to still be making the same stuff, the same way, twenty years from now.

ANYHOODLE, if you haven't introduced yourself to smoked paprika, it would be well worth your time to do so. A pinch in homemade salsa, a quick shake over chicken, a hearty dash in a taco soup - deeeeelish. It gives a great smoky flavor for relatively little expense.

That's the poorly-kept secret behind this dish. Praise be my Southern climate allows me to keep fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary in particular) growing on my deck all year long, as there's really nothing like fresh thyme.

I was really hesitant - my face nearly froze that way - about putting an uncovered, herb-plastered roast in my refrigerator. Overnight!!! Honestly, it was no big deal. The reason behind this quirky approach is that the flavoring will dilute in trapped moisture if you wrap the roast. That being the case, if you've got a huge fridge with tons of room you could put the roasting pan inside a sideways paper bag to shield the roast and let the paper absorb any moisture. But, as possible evidence of my learning something, it was no biggie.

Our friends at Southern Living, who developed this recipe, also called for a Sticky Stout Barbecue Sauce to go with it; recipe here. I didn't try it so you're on your own with it, but the pork recipe was so fab I wouldn't expect the sauce to be anything less.

To fully cover the roast with the herb mixture you have two options - and many more if you're willing to utilize dart guns. Either spread the mixture on a length of waxed paper, roll, and deposit the now-coated roast in a pan, or (my method) put 1/4 of your herbs in the bottom of the roasting pan, place the roast on top and press, then use a large spoon to sprinkle/press the rest of the herbs on.

Sweetie might have mentioned 3 or 4 times - during dinner - that he really liked this recipe a lot. I served it with steamed broccoli and a quick cheese sauce (some evaporated milk I had open, a little faux flour, a squirt of Dijon mustard, a shake of hot sauce, and some grated cheddar).

Smoked Paprika Pork Roast
Southern Living, October 2011

2 TBSP smoked paprika
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP kosher salt
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper (Seriously? About 10 twists of the grinder. Jesus. Nobody measures that.)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) boneless pork loin roast

1. Stir together paprika, brown sugar, salt, garlic, pepper, thyme. Trim pork roast - meaning "cut off the big ol' pad of fat."

2. The recipe says to tie the roast. If you're into kitchen macrame, have at it. I chose to pretend I didn't see that part.

3. Place in a roasting dish large enough to hold roast. I used a smallish pan for my smallish roast, because arthritis means I can't waste my hand strength on lifting roasting pans heavier than they need to be. HOLLA.

4. SL's directions are for grilling - light one side of the grill, heating to 375 to 400 degrees; leave other side unlit. Place pork over lit side, 8 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer pork to unlit side and grill, covered with lid, 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.

5. My directions - roast at 325 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast registers 160 degrees.

6. If yours turns out like mine did, it may look a little leathery on the outside. I told it to shape up during its 10 minute rest period (you really do need to do this, to let the meat re-absorb juices). It wasn't as juicy as the Chili-Glazed pork, but it was fab and intensely flavorful.