I regularly run into a bit of a problem: all of the best roast pork recipes call for pork loin. Now, my problem isn’t with pork loin per se but with the fact that there are only two of us. And while I do enjoy leftover pork, I try to keep it to a manageable amount. So I end up either discarding the recipe or adapt it to a smaller piece of pork.
Why such an interest in roast pork? Growing up I didn’t find pork all that tasty. My mom’s pork chops with sauerkraut ended up with pork chops that were more closely related to shoe leather than actual food. And don’t let me talk about how dry they were. It didn’t get particularly better when I started cooking for myself. My pork chops ended up rather dry and flavorless.
My first real introduction to good pork was in college with Dinosaur Barbque’s pulled pork. It was very good but it ended up being more about the sauce than the pork itself. I started making a variation of pulled pork that was good (although it wasn’t authentic; I make mine in a crock pot) but not to die for.
And then I made the Zuni Café House-Cured Pork Tenderloin and I had found nearly the perfect pork. It become the benchmark for all other pork.
And then I managed to successfully adapt this recipe (my first attempt ended up in something edible if not particularly enjoyable). I’m not saying it’s better. The Zuni Café version has a definite porkier taste. This recipe just seems to be in better harmony than the other.
Aristà di maiale alla fiorentina (Florentine Roast Pork Tenderloin)
Adapted from Enoteca: Simple, Delicious Recipes in the Italian Wine Bar Tradition
1 lbs. pork tenderloin
2 1/2 cups water
6 juniper berries, crushed
3 allspice berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic, crushed
2 dried chiles
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
- Place all of the brine ingredients except for the salt and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the herbs to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
- Pore the brine over the pork and place in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.
- Remove the pork from the brine and dry with paper towels. Rub the pork with olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Brown the pork on all sides.
- Place the pork in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice the pork and serve with rosemary potatoes and a Sangiovese wine.