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.
Yum

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.

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Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • 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…..

  • 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

  • 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

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