There are two, no make that three, secrets to making an excellent pork roast. The first is to brine the roast; brining helps the roast retain moisture when it cooks. The second is to not overcook the pork. Take the roast out at 140 to 145°F; the internal temperature will still continue to rise 5 or 10 degrees. Much higher and you have shoe leather. The third tip is to pair the roast with a wonderful sauce, as pork is rather mild and fares well with a good sauce.
Okay, now that we’ve established the fundamentals, this pork roast with a cardamom onion crust and mushroom sauce is I think, the best pork roast I’ve ever had. Much of this has to do with the fact that the pork was brined overnight and it was cooked to a perfect temperature, the inside still a little pink. But the sauce really takes this roast out of this world. Creamy, mushroom-y, cardamom-y. The recipe is adapted from one in an old Bon Appetit. Normally cardamom is used with Middle Eastern dishes, often with desserts. Who knew that cardamom would work so well in a mushroom cream sauce? This savory sauce is one that I will be making again soon, perhaps next time over chicken breasts.
- 3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium sized onions), divided into 3 x 1/2 cups
- Olive oil
- 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided, 2 and 1/4 teaspoons
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 4-pound center-cut boneless pork loin roast
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups chicken broth, divided, 1 cup and 1 cup
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 Tbps butter, room temperature
1 Prepare the brine. Dissolve the sugar and salt into the boiling water. Add it to the cold water. Add the pepper and stir to combine. Chill the brine completely in the refrigerator before adding it to the pork. Submerge pork in the brine solution and chill for 24 hours. Note that thick, gallon-sized freezer bag is great for brining; if you use one, you probably only need half as much brine solution. Even if you are using a bag, place in a bowl just in case the bag leaks. Rinse the roast thoroughly of the brine solution before cooking, pat dry.
2 Preheat oven to 350°F. Purée 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, and garlic in a food processor or blender.
3 Spread another 1/2 cup chopped onion in center of large roasting pan; top with pork. Sprinkle pork generously with salt and pepper; coat with onion purée.
4 Combine mushrooms, remaining 1/2 cup onion, and 4 Tbsp olive oil in bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper; arrange around pork.
5 Roast pork 1 hour. Remove from oven after one hour and remove the mushrooms, placing them into a large saucepan. Add 1 cup broth and 1/2 cup water to roasting pan. Return roast to oven and roast pork until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 140°F-145°F, about 15-20 minutes longer. Transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.
6 Scrape the juices from the roasting pan into the saucepan with the mushrooms. Add the cream, remaining cup of broth, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom to pan; bring to boil. Blend flour and butter in small cup; mix into mushroom sauce. Cook sauce, stirring often, until reduced enough to coat spoon. Season sauce with salt and pepper; serve with pork.