Pork Roast with Cardamom Mushroom Sauce

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.

Pork Roast with Cardamom Mushroom Sauce Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

Brine:

  • 3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 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 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.

pork-cardamom-mush-1.jpg

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.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

26 Comments

  1. Paul

    That sounds wonderful. I’ve never been a big fan of pork roast, my mothers was always dry, overcooked, and tough. I think that was (and is) one of the hardest things to get people to do now-and-days, cook their meats to the right temperature.

    Understandably, coming from the older generations, meat quality wasn’t what it is today. So the need to cook the meat into oblivion, killing off any bacteria (and flavor) their was left in the meat was required. Pink was a big No-No for pork in my family.

    Anywho! That stigma has finally been eradicated, somewhat atleast, from my mothers thought, and cooking process. I would very much like to try this recipe, I think I can convince her to eat pork that isn’t cooked gray throughout, haha.

    The recipe just seems like a great pairing. The mushroom sauce in particular, I was turned on to cardamom for making homemade chai, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Cookies, spice mixtures, meats, its such a versatile little spice, I’ve fallen head over heals for it!

    This, I do believe, will be one to try, maybe this weekend. Thank you elise, your blog has inspired me yet again!

    Now if I could only get my mother to like mushrooms…..

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. jonathan

    I purchased ground cardamom once. The price I paid for it, you’d have thought they switched the price tag with that of saffron. Egad!

    A delicious spice. Isn’t it also used in a lot of Scandinavian baked good recipes?

    I’m with you on the necessary steps to a good pork loin roast, but with way that sauce is looking in your photo, I could eat a bowl of just the sauce and be happy.

    But that would probably be wrong.

    Not nearly as wrong as using the word ‘egad’ in a blog post, however.

    Yeah, I got a little enthusiastic with the sauce in this photo. But it’s so good! ~Elise

  5. 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.

  6. Kristi

    Jonathan – my Icelandic grandmother’s Christmas cake (“jolakake”) was heavy on the cardamom, and incredibly delicious!

    Elise – I have to admit I’ve always been scared to make a pork roast, but this may be the recipe that changes my mind!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. Jess

    Perfect timing! Now I have my Christmas menu set: this, potato roesti, haricot vert, a nice, meaty Zin. Thank you!!

    And, yes, Scandinavian cooking is heavy with cardamom, esp at Christmas. Glogg, coffee buns, cookies, even the aquavit!

  10. BipolarLawyerCook

    Re: dry brining a roast– yes, I have. I’ve done bone in pork crown roasts, boneless pork tenderloin roasts, beef sirloin roasts, and roasting chickens. It works like a charm, and works for cuts, chops, and steaks as well. For chops or a steak for two I use no more than a tbsp. of salt.

  11. Engineer Dave

    WOW!!! Made this tonight and everybody was looking for seconds, even my seven year-old granddaughter who passed on the mushrooms, but loved the sauce. This one’s definitely a keeper.

    One question. After roasting the meat and mushrooms for the first hour, there was a lot of liquid in the pan from the ‘shrooms. Was I to add the broth and water to that liquid or replace it? It made a lot of liquid in the end that I had a hard time reducing it to the point where it coated the spoon.

    But what the hey? So the sauce was a little runny, but it sure tasted good.

  12. Sanjeev

    Looks brilliant. My sister and I are hosting X-Mas Eve dinner and thinking of making this as the main course. For those of you who have made it can you clear up a few questions in the method:

    1. After the first hour of roasting do I pick out only the mushrooms (leaving the onions behind)? or remove the entire mixture?

    2. As Engineer Dave asked, are the pan juices replaced by the broth and water mixture or added to it?

    3. Your opinion on substituting a nice white wine in place of the water for a little extra flavor or would it be too much?

    Mushrooms, cream and butter… can it get any better!
    Thanks

  13. Elise

    Hi Dave and Sanjeev,

    If you scrape out some of the onions when you remove the mushrooms, that’s no big deal. The point to removing the mushrooms is so that they don’t get dried out.

    You add the broth and water to the pan juices.

    Then after the roast is done, while it is resting you transfer the pan juices (including remnant onions) to the pan with the mushrooms.

    If it doesn’t boil down fast enough, then I would add a little more flour to help it thicken.

    Regarding the wine, it’s up to you. Taste the sauce and see if you think it would be even better with white wine. I love the sauce as is.

  14. liloh

    This sounds divine! I recently started eating mushrooms again after I discovered how delicious they were in turnovers. :)
    I’m going to try cooking this sometime the next week, but I have a question for halving the recipe: if I were to use a 2-lb pork loin how long should I keep it in the oven? Also, will it still take 15-20 min longer for the temperature to hit 140?
    Thank you!

  15. Sondra

    For those of us lucky enough to live near Indian markets, cardamom pods are not expensive. Also, grinding the seeds releases the most wonderful frangrance — much more impressive than the pre-ground cardamom, and much tastier, too!

    My pork loin is in the oven — can’t wait for dinner :-) Happy Christmas!

  16. janna

    We served this for Christmas lunch today, to rave reviews from young and old. Not sure how I’ll top that next year, but I’ll certainly look here for more inspiration!

  17. ann

    Made this for Christmas dinner and it was a total hit. Delicious — thanks for posting the recipe! We don’t have enough meat leftover, but there’s plenty of sauce – so pork crepes for dinner tomorrow with a ladle of sauce over!

  18. Amy Artisan

    When I saw this recipe a couple of weeks ago I knew it would be the center of this year’s Christmas dinner. Cardamom is a family favorite spice. This was my first time brining anything. Wow – this is a wonderful dish!

    To complete the menu, I served this with Cranberry/Toasted Pecan Couscous, Creamed Spinach, Sweet Onion Casserole & Mom’s Sour Cream Yeast Cresents.

    The meal was a hit with everyone. The leftovers were just as good. I’ll be making this again.

  19. Sara

    Wow this looks so good. I love cardamom and I love pork loin. I adapted this to make a mushroom cream sauce for a pork chop the other night. It was so delicious! I’m going to try cooking with cardamom more – it’s one of my favorite spices, but I mostly just have it in middle eastern sweets and tea. Time to experiment with new flavors!

  20. Jan

    Elise,

    I made this while you had your comments off because you were away. The fact that I made myself come back here to comment will tell you how wonderful this pork roast was. It was the best meal I ever made. In fact I found it hard to believe I did make it. I followed your recipe exactly – perfect. I got lucky and Costco had a $4.00 off coupon for pork roast and I made this for $6.00, not counting mushrooms. Thanks.

  21. HobbyWizard

    I just finished making this, and the roast alone is really flavorful and moist. The mushroom sauce is rich, though it’s a bit thinner than I hoped (though looking at the photo, mine is the same consistency). Anyway, the flavor of the sauce is great, too. This is worth the planning necessary to brine the roast. Great recipe!

  22. Karen Haugland

    Made this for my husband birthday last night. Best pork roast ever. Even the left overs tonight were good. My Mother in law had seconds!

    Easy, yummy and love the “secret” ingredient of cardomom.

    Next to try the sauce with chicken over egg noodles for a lighter stroganoff type meal.

  23. Mary Morris

    I agree with you, Elise, the best pork roast ever and served with blanched fresh green beans, mashed potatoes with parsley, with cardamom sauce drizzled over the pork and potatoes makes a lovely presentation, and a very yummy meal. My husband was bowled over. Too bad I didn’t have dinner guests, but will next time!

    Since it was just the two of us, I made a pork roast pie with the leftovers; I made more cardamom sauce, added more mushrooms, chopped up the pork and topped the meat and sauce with the leftover mashed potatoes, baked it for about 1/2 hour at 350. That was good, too!

  24. Kathleen

    Elise, I have to tell you that I didn’t use a nice pork roast on this. I had a huge shoulder in the freezer that I was not sure how to prepare. (The other half was not wonderful… We just didn’t like the taste of the pork itself) I cannot recall ever having cardomom in a dish, so I was a little hesitant (but always looking for an adventure.) When I opened the cardamom spice jar I really wasn’t sure if I would like it..
    Since my piece of meat was so large, I marinated it for about 40 hours then followed your directions. I have to tell you that it was, indeed, THE best pork I have ever had! I had one bite and really, I didn’t want to stop eating! The conbination of the Cardomom and mushrooms taste amazing! (My sauce was a bit too runny, but I didn’t care. The taste of it is… well… to die for.) I will definately be making this recipe again! I can only imagine what it will taste like with a good piece of meat!
    Thank you again for another wonderful recipe. I know I can always count on your site to find excellent recipes.

  25. Lines and Screams

    I just made this recipe last week and it was delicious! We had a good amount of the sauce left over and it was too amazing to just chuck so I made risotto with it. And OhMyGod it was good! I melted some butter with a little bit of truffle oil and coated the rice with that. I added the mushroom cardamom sauce and let the rice soak that up and I added the hot broth as I would with any risotto and stirred. When the risotto was cooked, I added about 1/4 cup of romano cheese. I topped each bowl with another drizzle of truffle oil. It was awesome!

  26. Kristen Kennedy

    Oh Elise – this was SO delicious!! When I announced I was making pork loin tonight my husband cringed. I’ve had disappointing results in the past. He has gone back for a third helping of this recipe – thank you!!

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