Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rosemary Mustard Roasted Pork Loin with Pancetta

Before also

I've been on a bit of a cooking kick this week and it's been fun! Last night, I made rosemary mustard rubbed roasted pork loin with pancetta and it was a hit.  I'll definitely make this again, with a few minor modifications.  I basically started with Giada's recipe, with some modifications.  Most notably, I used very thinly sliced pancetta instead of bacon, which I think adds a more subtle and refined flavor, some agave nectar and altered the cooking time.  The roast pork was really delicious; the mustard, agave, rosemary crust and crisp pancetta flavor really infused into the pork.  There was great depth of porky flavor, and the mustard rub was really savory and tasty, not at all too sharp or pungent, and the rosemary added nice depth of flavor.  It also makes the house smell amazing! The pork was still quite tender and juicy, although in the future, I would probably brine it for extra moisture and perhaps only cook it to 145 degrees.  I prefer my pork medium well as opposed to completely well done.  I threw in some fingerling potatoes to roast at the bottom of the rack (seasoned with just a little salt, pepper and olive oil) and also roasted some yellow striped beets (wrapped in foil) in the same pan, for a light roasted beet, burrata, toasted walnut salad with champaigne shallot vinaigrette, that was the perfect accompaniment to the pork.
Finally, we had a wonderful wine with the meal: we opened our first 2008 vintage bottle of Rivers Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  It was delicious and complemented the meal so perfectly.  It had a wonderful cherry nose with rich and full yet silky taste and beautiful long finish.  I didn't think it was too young to drink, although I'm happy we still have two more bottles.  Rivers Marie is so incredibly consistent from vintage to vintage and always so delicious; it's definitely one of my favorite, if not my favorite, pinot noir producer (thanks to M. for the introduction).  It's a fairly big, very approachable pinot noir, with just enough elegance and restraint to not be cloying, as some California pinots can be.  Everyone who tastes it loves it, even people who normally aren't pinot fans; the mailer is due to come this week and I'm excited to order some of their 2009 offerings, I'll definitely be maxing out my allocation this year.

Rosemary Mustard Roasted Pork Loin with Pancetta Recipe (serves 4):
  • The day before I would brine the pork loin.  I didn't brine it this time and it was still really good, but I think it would be even better with brining.  I'd use a reduced volume version of my turkey brine.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix together chopped rosemary leaves from 1-2 stalks of rosemary, 3-4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of dijon mustard, 2 TB of whole grain mustard, 2 TB of agave nectar.  I used a food processor, but I don't think it was necessary and cleanup was more work than it was worth
  • Generous slather a 2 1/4 lb pork loan with the mustard and herb mixture.  Then lay thinly sliced pieces of pancetta on all the exposed surfaces of the pork, overlapping the pancetta to ensure full coverage. I used probably about 1/5 - 1/4 lb of Fra Mani pancetta from Whole Foods.  I let the pork roast sit for about 20 minutes to marinate a bit before cooking
  • Tie up the pork loin using three pieces of butcher twine.  It's probably easiest if you lay the butcher twine underneath the pork before slathering it with mustard and laying on the pancetta.  Transfer the pork loan to a roasting rack on a roasting pan.  Line the roasting pan with aluminum foil (otherwise clean-up sucks).  I also tossed some beets seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrapped in aluminum foil on the roasting rack.  Stick in the meat thermometer into the thickest part.  I made the mistake of sticking the meat thermometer in later and stuck it too shallow.
  • Roast for 1 hour.  Continue roasting, checking in 10 minute intervals until the thermometer reads 145-155 degrees.  Cover with foil if the pancetta browns too much.  I had to cook the pork for almost two hours, but part of the reason was that I kept on taking it in and out of the oven with my meat thermometer snafus.  About half an hour into the roasting, I threw in a couple of fingerling potatoes (seasoned with a little olive oil, salt and pepper) in the bottom of the pan, and also removed the beets after about an hour, for the salad.
  • When the pork is done, transfer the pork loin to a serving plate, tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.  Untie the butchers twine and carve into 1-1.25" slices.

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