Pork loin has a bad rap in the minds of many people. The poor reputation, in my opinion is because too many people overcook it. I know, I overcooked it too for many years. But relax, there is a better way to cook pork loin and take advantage of this more economical cut of meat!
Want to cook juicy, delicious, tender meats? (especially the leaner cuts)
It’s pretty simple.
Fact: When you cook leaner cuts at high temps, for too long … you dry it out, making it tougher and less tasty. It’s much more difficult to ‘ruin’ fatty cuts of meats … that’s not true of the leaner cuts.
Best Pork Loin EVER!
The key with ‘truly slow-roasting’ is fat preservation. With minimal fat loss more juices and flavor are retained by the meat. The technique works with fatty meats too of course, but the difference is more noticeable with leaner cuts of meat.
It’s been months since I have written a post but when I began prepping this meal … I thought it could be special. I’d never cooked a ‘whole pork loin’ before, it tipped the scales at over 8 lbs (over 4 kg) of delicious pork. As the knife slid through the first cut and the tender, juicy meat was exposed, my hopes were confirmed. It was juicy, tender deliciousness!
Now for the recipe… Let’s dig in!
Whole Pork Loin: Recipe
Ingredients: As shown in the picture below, the ingredients are simple and ‘clean’. There are no added preservatives, etc.
- Pepper – we used peppercorns and ground black pepper (not shown).
- Slap Ya Mama – is my favorite cajun or creole spice.
- Sea Salt – this was coarse ground.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Frank’s Hot Sauce, I also use Crystals and Texas Pete interchangeably.
Note: If spicy foods are ‘not your thing’, no worries! Simply switch out your favorite spices for the Slap Ya Mama and the hot sauce.
Step One – Dry Spices
Lay out the meat, in this case it was a SLAB of pork loin. You can use any size of meat, from a fish fillet or chicken breast … all the way up to whole pork loins and beyond!
Coat the meat with your favorite spices. For this spicy pork loin I used coarse sea salt, ground peppercorns, black pepper and Slap Ya Mama. As you can see, I thoroughly covered the meat in the spices.
Step 2 – Wet Spices
I sprinkled Frank’s Hot Sauce over the entire pork loin, rubbed it in and then pat it down, using my fingers. You could use a spoon or spatula to spread the sauce if you prefer not to get your fingers dirty. I don’t mind. :)
Below is how the pork loin looked, with Mt. Ida and the Shuswap in the background.
Step 3 – Truly Slow Roasting
When ‘truly slow roasting’ I’ve always set the oven temperature below 200F, the lower the better. For the cooking of this pork loin, I knew I had all day to cook, so I set the oven temp at the lowest setting of the oven, 170F.
I ‘truly slow roasted’ this pork loin for 5 HOURS!
After five hours, I removed the loin and tested the temp … perfect 120F.
I like for the internal meat temp to be 125F, which is the recommended temp for ‘rare’. But since I had planned on placing the loin on the grill for 5 – 10 minutes to ‘sear’ the meat and create some nice grill marks, all was well.
Note: I use two methods of meat placement to allow for air flow.
- I place the meat directly on the grate in the oven. I also place a pan under the meat to collect any fluids that may drop.
- If you have a tray with plenty of holes for air flow (like the one I used below) … that’s fine too.
The picture above was actually taken after 5 hours of cooking at 170F, but this is exactly how it was cooked in the oven. I had to cut the roast in two pieces so it would fit on the tray.
Note: Take a look at the pan beneath the tray. There is very little fat or moisture loss which shows the benefit of TRULY slow roasting. The moisture is retained in the meat! That is what you want!! Especially when cooking leaner cuts of meat!
Step 4 – Searing the Loin
I preheated the grill, turned it up on the highest flame level.
My intent was to only ‘sear’ the outer level of the meat to increase the flavor and yes… for appearance.
I didn’t time it but I only seared this roast for a few minutes, and that was also enough to raise the temp to 125F. It was a win/win. :)
Benefits of Truly Slow Roasting
The benefits of TRULY slow roasting are many.
- fat preservation – which means flavor, juiciness preservation! It’s a beautiful thing.
- economical – especially these days during COVID19 and the skyrocketing costs of meat, truly slow roasting cheaper cuts of meat is a big bonus! Too often cheaper cuts are the tougher, leaner cuts.
- ease of cooking – because you are cooking at such low temps, you do not need to ‘babysit’ the meat while cooking. If it cooks an extra 20-30 minutes, no big deal. I over cooked a dish by an hour once and the meat was still delicious.
This recipe is for a ‘whole pork loin’ but the principles apply to any cut and any size. I’ve cooked ground round burgers, 1/2 pork loins, steaks, chicken breasts and even salmon fillets.
Note: Truly slow roasting meats will not turn tougher cuts of meat into ribeyes, but without question truly slow roasting is another way to cook tougher and leaner cuts of meat.
A perfect example is the pork loin. It’s not a tough piece of meat, until people cook it at higher temps, for too long. This meat dish was so tender, juicy and delicious… it reminded both Kelly and I of expensive, spicy, roasted turkey breast… and for much less than half the price. Typically these whole pork loins are less than $2 per lb.