Pork Roast with Cardamom Mushroom Sauce

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Brined pork loin, roasted with an onion cardamom crust and served with a mushroom cream sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Pork Roast Cardamom Mushrooms

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 (barely) 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.

Pork Roast with Cardamom Mushroom Sauce Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

Brine:

  • 3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

Roast:

  • 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

Method

1 Brine the pork roast: Whisk together the salt, sugar, and water until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Add the pepper.

Submerge pork in the brine solution and chill for 1 to 2 days. 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.

3 Make onion garlic cardamom rub: Purée 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, and garlic in a food processor or blender.

4 Rub roast with onion purée, surround with mushrooms and onions in roasting pan: Toss remaining 1 cup of chopped onion with mushrooms and 4 Tbsp olive oil in a bowl. Place pork roast in the center of the roasting pan. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Rub roast with onion garlic purée. Surround the roast with mushrooms and onions.

5 Roast pork, remove mushrooms, add broth and water: Roast pork 1 hour at 350°F. 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 Make mushroom cream sauce with pan drippings: Scrape the drippings from the roasting pan into the pan 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 the sauce, stirring often, until reduced enough to coat spoon. Season sauce with salt and pepper; serve with pork.

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Recipe (barely) adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • BipolarLawyerCook

    Elise, have you ever tried dry brining, as described in Judy Rogers’ Zuni Cafe Cookbook? It’s essentially a dry rub, but with several tablespoons of salt added. I find that it works as well as brining for poultry and pork in maintaining the meat’s moisture, but that the texture is better– firmer, less mushy. Too, it works on beef and lamb, which don’t improve with wet brining most of the time.

    I’ve heard of dry brining steak but not a pork roast. Have you tried it on a roast? ~Elise

  • Jerry

    For once I have to disagree that one of your recipes is “the best” This recipe for pork loin made by my lovely wife’svery talented fingers, is by far the best.

    Having said that, I’ll start looking for some cardamom seeds to try your recipe out, because it does look good!

    Your wife’s roast looks gorgeous! ~Elise

  • MK

    Tried adapting this to simply be a mushroom/cardamom sauce for chicken cutlets – with great results. I, too, was a little surprised of the effectiveness of the cardamom in a mushroom cream sauce, but it was a real winner. Thanks for sharing.

  • felicia

    I’ve just set my brine outside to cool in the lovely snow storm we’re having here in NH, so that I can start brining my roast tonite!
    I too was horrified at the price of cardamom in the grocery store – I found that if I buy it from the health food store, where they have it in bulk, a little bag of it (which is enough to fill a standard spice jar) costs all of about $2. I tend to buy all of my spices at the health food store, so that I can buy small quanities if I wish; either way, the price can’t be beat.
    Can’t wait to try this recipe out tomorrow!

  • sm

    This is a fantastic recipe! This was definitely the best pork loin roast I have ever made, thanks to your great instructions! We really loved the sauce too; the cardamom made it so unique and delicious. I followed the recipe as stated except I didn’t need to use the butter/flour mixture in the sauce because I had let it reduce while the roast was resting and it ended up being plenty thick. Thanks so much!

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