This is inspired from a recipe posted on turnersouth.com. I wasn't sure about it, but DH really wanted to try it. It is the best piece of pork I've ever eaten and am putting it here so that I never ever lose the recipe! It's so simple that even the most tender chef can't make a mistake on this one. P.S. It may seem like a lot of pepper, but when it's cracked instead of ground the flavor is completely different. I actually HATE pepper on my meat, so trust me, it's not too much. *RECIPE UPDATE AUGUST 2006* In a March 2006 "Cook's Illustrated" magazine gave a great way to reduce the "heat" when using peppercorns. I haven't tried it, but put the method here for safe-keeping and future use in this recipe. I've made a few tiny changes. ***REDUCING HEAT IN PEPPERCORN RECIPES*** To do this take equal amounts of peppercorns and olive oil, (they used 5T each) PLUS 1.5 Tsp additional olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Then heat peppercorns and oil in small saucepan over very low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. If you prefer an even lower heat, milder pepper flavor, drain the cooled peppercorns in a fine-mesh strainer and then toss them with 5 tablespoons of fresh olive oil.
- 2 1⁄2 lbs boneless center-cut pork loin (roast)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh cracked pepper (**see instructions below)
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, If you do choose fresh Parmesan, then be sure it's grated (the shakeable kind in the green can, powdery)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (finely chopped, or 2 t dried)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 -2 teaspoon fine grained salt (the parmesan has a lot of salt, so be careful not to over salt)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (important for tender roast).
- Pat pork roast dry with paper towel.
- In small bowl stir together all spices (see note below regarding peppercorns) with the parmesan cheese to make the "rub".
- **To crack the black peppercorns put whole peppercorns into a double-bagged zip lock type bag and beat with meat pounder, the bottom of a heavy sauté pan or roll with rolling pin until most of the peppercorns are at least cracked in half (will chip if you do on tile countertop) This seems like a LOT of pepper, but believe me it's the perfect amount. (If you use ground pepper you will not get much pepper flavor, and it will be incredibly hotter. You will need to adjust pepper to about 1 tsp).
- Rub herb mixture over entire roast for about 1 minute. You should have LOTS of herb mixture left over. The roast will have a very thick coating.
- Pool 1T of olive oil in bottom of the smallest, shallow baking dish that the roast will fit into. Place the roast fat side up over the olive oil (if you have fat on it). Put some of the extra herb rub underneath the roast and pile the remaining herb mixture on top of the roast.
- Pour 1/2 cup of water in bottom of pan to keep the drippings from burning.
- Put in oven and bake uncovered for approximately 1 hour until internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- **PLEASE NOTE After about 30 minutes of baking the water will have evaporated and you should have some nice golden bits. You will have to add enough water to cover the bottom 1/4 inch of the roast itself at that point no more, no less. Watch it carefully and do not let the drippings burn. By the end of cooking it should have reduced to about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid.
- Once internal temperature reads 145-150°F immediately remove the roast from the oven and cover the pan with foil for a minimum of 15 minutes before slicing. **Side Note: The key to a tender roast is to use a meat thermometer and follow up with the tenting method. This allows the internal temperature of the roast to raise another 10 degrees after it comes out of the oven so that the meat gets completely cooked to a safe temperature, and is so moist and juicy. I learned this from watching America's Test Kitchen and they are SO right on about that.
- If you would like to use the drippings for a sauce, STRAIN out all the herbs first. Then add about a teaspoon of cornstarch to the remaining liquid and heat until it thickens a bit. I wouldn't recommend reducing it as it's a bit salty. I added about 1/4 cup of MonteVina pinot grigio wine as well to thin it out a bit and it was so good!
- Drink the rest of the wine with the meal!