Ready in 1h
Rowley Leigh, The Times weekend section 31 March 2012
For eating outside with Greek salad and aubergine tian.
Timing is all with a loin of pork: undercooked it is repugnant to most sensibilities; overcooked it becomes dry and flavourless. Timings in a recipe can never be that accurate, and I always use a skewer or meat thermometer to be certain. Ask the butcher to “chine” the rack: this should mean cutting through the ribs where they meet the backbone but leaving both attached to the meat. Ask him also to score it very well in parallel lines no more than half a centimetre apart.
1 Peel the garlic cloves and split them in half. With a small, sharp knife, make two small incisions between the ribs about 5cm apart and insert the garlic.
2 Finely grate the zest of the lemon and mix with the herbs, a teaspoon of sea salt and the same of milled black pepper. Stuff this mixture all along the channel between the ribs and the backbone (you may need to make it deeper for the purpose).
3 Season with more salt and pepper all the facets of the joint except the skin. This should be rubbed vigorously with the cut face of the lemon, so that it is dripping in juice. Now rub the skin really well with plenty of fine table salt.
4 Place the pork skin side up in a baking tray and put it in an oven preheated to 220C/gas mark 7 for 20 minutes. Turn the tray around in the oven so that the crackling gets an even heat and cook for a further 20 minutes.
5 At this point, pour out all the fat from the tray. Turn the oven down to 190C/gas mark 5 and leave the meat to cook for another 20 minutes. By this time the crackling should be set hard (if not, sprinkle it with a little salt and give the meat 10 minutes longer in a hotter oven).
6 Remove the joint from the oven, take a long, sharp knife and remove all the crackling in one piece. Season the exposed fat on top of the loin, pour the white wine into the baking tray and put back in the oven at 220C/gas mark 7 for 20 minutes. Test the meat with a meat thermometer or a skewer: it should be hot in the centre (75C). Remove from the tin.
7 Scrape up the juices in the tin, diluting them with a little water (or stock) — the intention is to provide only a little juice with the meat, not a full-scale gravy. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, then carve it straight down parallel to the ribs, providing alternate slices on and off the bone. Serve with generous pieces of crackling, some potatoes fried in the pork fat and a sharp little cos lettuce salad.
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