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This week’s recipe for Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce is my gift to you for a less stressful holiday dinner. Okay – from the cooking end at least… There are no difficult techniques and parts of it can be made ahead. It also uses one of my favorite combinations of fresh rosemary, fennel seeds and orange zest as the rub that forms the outside crust once the pork loin is roasted. And by “studding” the loin with garlic by making little tiny slits and poking it in, it adds tremendous flavor. A simple fresh cranberry sauce made a little extraordinary with chopped dried apricots, golden raisins, orange zest and fresh rosemary adds a tart-sweet combination to the moist slices of herb crusted roast pork.
Probably the most stressful part is to know with confidence when the pork is cooked to the correct temperature. You can’t tell by looking at it and an estimate of time is just that – an approximation for planning purposes, not an absolute.??If you don’t already have one I recommend picking up an instant reading food thermometer at a kitchen store. That will be your gift to yourself. The thermometer works when you insert the tip or probe into the thickest part of the meat to get a temperature reading. For pork, the official recommendation is an end temperature of at least 145 degrees F. with a 3 minute resting time. So I cook mine to 145 to 150 degrees F. I begin checking the internal temperature after about 45 minutes of cooking. Then I can estimate about how much more time it needs.
Remember, the internal temperature will continue to rise as your meat “rests” under a piece of foil. Resting helps settle the juices in the meat so they don’t end up all over the cutting board when you slice it.
Makes 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 3 pound boneless pork loin roast
- 3 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups (12 ounce bag) fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
Mix together olive oil, rosemary, orange zest and fennel; set aside.
To “stud” pork with garlic, using a paring knife, make a slit in the loin that is the length of the garlic sliver and insert the garlic sliver all the way in; repeat randomly but evenly over the top and sides of the loin. Season pork with salt and pepper then put rosemary rub on top and sides of pork (pork can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated 1-2 hours before roasting. Remove from refrigerator 20-30 minutes before roasting).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Put pork on a rack in a roasting pan or directly on the pan.
Put pork in preheated oven; roast for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 325 degrees F. and roast until internal temperature of pork is cooked to 145 to 150 degrees F., when measured at the thickest part of the roast, about 1 hour: see note. Remove pork from oven, put a piece of foil loosely over the top and allow sitting 15-20 minutes to allow meat to “rest” (resting allows juices to settle in the meat before slicing so they do not end up all over the cutting board but remain in the meat).
While pork is roasting prepare the sauce: Put water and sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil and add cranberries; reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until cranberries are open and softened, about 10 minutes (sauce will thicken as it cools to room temperature). Remove from heat and stir in raisins, apricots, rosemary and orange zest.
Slice pork and serve with cranberry sauce.
Note: I like to check the temperature of the pork after about 45 minutes just to get an idea where the internal temperature is. This gives me an approximate idea of how much longer it will take for doneness.