Tender, juicy, smoky, delicious, spectacular looking, and fast. Could you ask for anything more?
Pork loin is a lean tender tube of muscle attached to the ribs on one side and the spine on the other. It is the same muscle as the prime rib on a steer. When they talk about eating high off the hog, this is the cut they mean.
Because it is so lean, it is a great cut for stuffing with something moist. If you cook it properly, serve it at 140°F, it will be tender and juicy. Because it can be showy, this dish has special occasion written all over it.
Serve with: a slightly sweet Riesling.
- Dry brine the meat. Sprinkle the salt all over the meat and rub it in. Let it sit in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.
- Bread stuffing. Make about 1 pound of your favorite bread stuffing. I use my Bread & Butter Stuffing with Cranberries. It's moist, fruity, slightly sweet, slightly tart, and really complements the pork. Make it extra moist, don't cook it before you stuff the pork, and make extra, so you can cook and serve some on the side.
- Prep the meat. Slice open the meat. You can simply take the tube and slice it across the middle like a hot dog bun, stopping about 1/2" from cutting all the way through, leaving a hinge as shown below (that's a bread stuffing).
- A more elegant method, that also gives you more stuffing and moisture, is to insert a long, sharp knife about 3/4" above the cutting board work the knife along at the same height sort of unrolling the meat, as shown below.
- Now pile on the stuffing. Try to level it from edge to edge, front to back (that's a pesto stuffing below).
- Roll the meat back over the stuffing and, with butcher's twine, tie the bundle every inch or so. Coat the meat with olive oil, and sprinkle with an herb rub, something without salt since we have dry brined it. The oil helps brown the meat, keeps moisture in, and pulls flavor from the oil soluble herbs. I use my Simon and Garfunkel Rub. Insert your meat thermometer probe in the center of the thickest part.
- Fire up. Set up the grill in a 2-zone configuration or get the smoker started, and get the indirect zone up to about 225°F.
- Cook. Add the meat and the wood for smoking at the same time. Go easy on the wood. We only want a hint of smoke. This is delicate meat. At 225°F the roast will cook to 140°F in about 2 hours, depending on how thick it is, what is in the stuffing, and how steady you can keep the temp. Take it off at 140°F and it will rise to 145°F from carryover. As usual, if the meat is done early, hold it in a faux cambro until the rest of dinner is ready. Below is a roast stuffed with chopped dates, raisins, walnuts, and moistened with sweet red wine.
- Cut in 1/2" slices and serve with soused apple slices, extra stuffing on the side, and a slightly sweet Riesling.