Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Mustard and Beer Pork Roast

It had to happen sooner or later : full-leg pants came back out of my dresser, the comforter went back on the bed and the craving for hearty dinners and soups has been nagging at my appetite. Summer is not gone yet, but it’s on its last few miles, and while I intend to make the most of it, the cooler evenings are now calling for warmer, richer fares.

Last winter, my darling friend Véronique took over my kitchen and demonstrated her risotto-fairy gift, and also made a delicious pork tenderloin, roasted with some Dijon mustard and beer. The V-Wonder’s way is all about eye-balling and writing nothing down, so it took a bit of reconstruction, but I was able to build a recipe inspired by her improvisation, adapted for a 2-pound roast.

Mustard is definitely pork’s best friend: the piquant condiment complements the meat’s sweetness oh-so well. Add a bit of garlic, tarragon and the sparkly taste of beer, and how can you go wrong? Obviously, only Dijon mustard will work here! No blinding yellow substitute accepted. As for the beer, choose a blond or red seasoned beer that has a crisp taste, with no overwhelming bitterness.

1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry tarragon
1 teaspoon dry rosemary
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bottle blonde or red beer (I used Unibroue's Blonde de Chambly)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pat the roast dry with paper towels, pierce the meat in several places with a fork, and sprinkle with some seas salt and freshly cracked black pepper. In a bowl, mix the Dijon mustard, the herbs, garlic and 1/4 of the beer.

Place the roast, fat-side down, in a Dutchoven or roasting pan and rub the roast with the paste. Pour the rest of the beer around the pork (the meat should be sitting in about 1/2-inch of beer).

Place in the oven, uncovered, and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, flipping the roast over halfway through. Use a meat thermometer to check the meat’s temperature: 160 degrees means medium, and 170 means well done. Once the meat is done, remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 5 to 20 minutes, then slice and serve. Drizzle the meat with the mustard sauce from the cooking pot.

Pair this roast with some mashed potatoes to get an awesome twist on a traditional stick-to-your-rib Sunday dinner. Deceptively simple, but very homey and delicious! You can let the roast sit in the mustard rub for a few hours before cooking, but that's not a necessary step. However, letting the roast sit a while after it's cooked is essential: giving the meat a break between cooking and being sliced allows the juices to spread through the entire roast, as opposed to being concentrated in the middle. You'll get a much juicier piece of pork than if it goes straight from roasting pan to plate.

You could also use the same seasoning for a beef roast; just remember that both types of meat need to roast for 20 minutes per pound! Adjust your cooking time accordingly, and do get a meat thermometer! Taking a bet as to whether your roast will be undercooked or overcooked is not the kind of gambling I condone...

Don’t be daunted by roasts like I used to be: once they are nicely rubbed, they literally cook themselves, and the leftover meat will supply you in sandwich filling for your next 3 lunches! It’s much better to roast a big piece of meat and use what’s left than buying terribly salty sandwich meat from the grocery store. Not to mention more economical. Get some pre-sliced Swiss cheese or Jalsberg, crusty bread, a tomato and some mayo, and you can easily whip up a tastier sandwich than most delis (and save yourself from sodium-induced dehydration at the same time).

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