Braised Pork Loin

Pork Loin

No one enjoys dry braised pork loin, and yet many recipes call for a blazing hot oven that shrinks the flesh, leaving it mealy.

I prefer a gentler approach, first searing on the stove top, and then covering for a gentle braise in the oven. We use seasonings that rev up the overall flavor while allowing for various condiment pairings. Our personal favorites are red pepper onion relish, orange marmalade, and Kansas City-Style barbecue sauce. The relish and the marmalade are particularly wonderful if warmed before dressing the meat. Decorative and delicious!

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 (3-4 pound) pork loin, trimmed
  • 5-6 feet cooking/baking twine (100% cotton)
  • Paper towel
Remove meat from packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. Trim excess fat and tie a spiral of cooking/baking twine to even up the shape. Drying the surface promotes browning and helps seasonings adhere. Binding produces tidy, attractive, evenly cooked loin.
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk all together; massage into all sides of the loin. Rest at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing. Regular (inexpensive) olive oil is used here because heating destroys the subtle flavors of extra-virgin. Taking the chill off promotes even braising.
  Place an oven rack in the lowest position; start preheating to 250°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Slow braising preserves attractive reddish pigmentation (myoglobin). Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Place a 12-inch tri-ply everyday pan (select one with a domed glass lid) over medium heat; circulate butter until it begins to foam (3-4 minutes). Add loin fattiest side down; sear 4 minutes. With big tongs, turn and sear the second side 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Preheating the pan discourages sticking and promotes searing (rapid browning). The Maillard (my YARD) reaction (browning) adds rich flavor.
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
Add to pan. Insert a barbecue thermometer probe (long probe, long cord, digital display) into the very center of the loin; cover and braise undisturbed in the oven to 145°F (50-70 minutes).

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole, peel dry or tough layers; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1 inch, holding pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to chop.

Onion adds moisture/flavor during braising. A thermometer takes the guesswork out of braising meat. Holding slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
  • Condiment of choice
Rest meat at room temperature 10-30 minutes before lifting the lid. Remove string, slice evenly and arrange on a serving platter with the condiment of choice. Resting improves color and moisture holding capacity.



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