Friday, January 30, 2009

Roasted Pork Loin, Applesauce, and Mashed Potatoes

Last weekend I got a pork loin roast from Babes in the Wood, and cooked it on Tuesday, along with some applesauce and mashed potatoes. In case you haven't noticed, I am a huge supporter of raising animals in a sustainable way and feeding them what they want to eat naturally. This forest-fed pork is hands down the best pork that I've ever had. See my post on North Carolina Barbecue for more about that.

Ingredients:
  • Pork Roast
    • 1.6 lb boneless pork loin roast
    • Dry Rub
      • Kosher salt
      • Raw cane sugar (or brown sugar)
      • Cumin
      • Cloves
      • Garlic Salt
      • Black Pepper
      • Celery Salt
      • Paprika
  • Applesauce
    • Honey Crisp Apples (peeled and roughly cut)
    • Cinnamon
    • Cloves
    • Sugar
  • Mashed Potatoes
    • 2 lb bag of Red Potatoes
    • Garlic
    • 1/2 Roasted Red Pepper
    • Olive Oil
    • Butter
    • Milk
    • Rosemary
    • Kosher Salt
    • Black Pepper 
    • Paprika
    • Garlic Salt

Procedure:
  • Pork:  I started the pork by defrosting it in a sealed bag in hot water (I like that or fridge defrosting more than microwave), while I mixed up the rub.  Rubs generally have about half and half salt and sugar plus whatever seasonings you want - I used cumin, and cloves because they are my favorite pork seasonings. I also only use kosher salt or sea salt for rubs - they are much more subtle and taste better than table salt, and treat the meat better. I cut the fat layer mostly off the meat to make a pocket to add the rub. I rubbed the rub into every surface of the roast.  This was placed on the bottom rack over a pan and baked at 350 for about 1.5 hours.
  • Applesauce:  Homemade applesauce is really, really easy. I just cut up some apples, put them in a pan with a splash of cider and some cinnamon, cloves, and sugar. That was baked for about 30 minutes at 350, then ran through a food processor. 
  • Mashed Potatoes:  I boiled red potatoes with some rosemary and seasonings. I roasted garlic in olive oil and paprika at the same time the apples and roast were baking, for about 30 minutes. The potatoes, garlic, half a roasted red pepper I had leftover, butter, milk, salt, and pepper went into a food processor (in two batches).  

Resulting Deliciousness:
    The pork turned out pretty well. I prepared it in a more barbecue-ey way than a roast-ey way, but that's the mood I was in. I overcooked it a bit, so it was a tad tough, but wasn't dried out. The taste was great, but the rub was just a tad strong - any pork but the flavorful forest-fed stuff would have been overwhelmed by the cumin. Next time I would either cook it less, or cook it low and slow, and would have brined it if I had time. But, still really good. 
    The mashed potatoes were really, really creamy from the butter, milk, olive oil from the roasted garlic, and the use of a food processor instead of hand-mashing. They were really good, but unfortunately had a slight fridge taste to them from the week or two old roasted red pepper I put in. I have learned that it probably isn't good to throw a roasted pepper in a bag in the fridge - next time I have some leftover, I'll add some olive oil or vinegar to help hold the flavor.
    The applesauce was also a little below my standards. Last time I did this, I roasted them for over an hour and they were awesome, almost like apple butter, but not so sweet and heavy. This time, I didn't roast it as long, so I expected a lighter flavor, which was fine. The problem was the texture - the apples had gone through at least a couple improper freeze/thaw cycles. I could tell when I bought them that they had been through that kind of abuse, I was just too excited to see honey crisp apples in January and figured they would be fine for applesauce. It might have been better if I cooked them more, but in addition to the good applesauce texture, there was a grainy texture that was a bit of a put-off. Oh well, still good if not perfect.
    So, overall it was a nice meal, but there were some little things that kept it from being great.

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