Honey-Garlic Brined Pork Roast
I was pretty impressed with my grass-fed beef roast a while back that turned out so well. Inspired by a new confidence in cooking pasture-raised meats, I picked up a certified organic pastured raised pork loin roast from my favourite local farmer, who raises heritage breeds on her lovely farm. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I was up for the challenge.
I went back to Shannon Hayes’ Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook and found her recipe for Honey Ginger Brined Pork. But, I did not have ginger, and lately, I’m trying to make meals work with what’s on hand, and not buy little things unless absolutely necessary. When I scanned the list of other ingredients, I realized I also did not have mustard seed on hand, but I figured there would likely be enough flavour without the ginger and mustard seed. I can’t say how delicious this recipe would have been with those two star players included, but I can say that this is the best pork, of any kind, we have ever eaten. It was juicy, flavourful, and tender. I made a gravy from the drippings, but we ended up using it on the sweet potato mash, so that we could enjoy the meat on its own.
Here’s how it all went down. On a Wednesday, I took my roast out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge. I planned to make the brine that day, but it didn’t happen. So, I made the brine on a Thursday, and by the time I placed the roast in it, it was completely thawed. I cooked the roast the following Sunday, which means that it sat in the brine for four days, give or take. I had planned to cook it on the Saturday, but things got busy, and I loved the flexibility of knowing that I had up to seven days (according to the recipe) to cook the roast from when I put it in the brine.
8+ cups of water (or enough to ensure the roast is submerged)
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup honey
3 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger ***I omitted this***
2 large garlic cloves
zest of 2 oranges
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon mustard seed ***I omitted this***
1 bay leaf
2 stalks of lemon grass (optional) ***I omitted this too***
1 4-6 pound pork roast (loin, shoulder or ham)
For the Brine:
Heat the water to a boil in a large covered pot. Remove from heat, and stir in salt and honey. Add everything else except the pork, then let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the roast, and weigh it down. I used an upside down heavy bowl to keep the roast completely submerged. Cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours to 7 days, depending on your desired flavour intensity. Allow for an extra day if the roast is frozen when you submerge it in the brine. Turn the roast over in the brine at least once per day.
I took the roast out of the brine, patted it dry, placed my meat thermometer in the middle, and put it in a 400F oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Then I brought the temperature down to 300, and roasted it (still uncovered) until the internal temperature was 145F. I took it out, tented it with foil, and then started my vegetables. After about 15 minutes, I took the roast out, sliced it into chops (as you can see from the picture above, it was a bone-in roast), and used the pan drippings to make gravy.
I served this pork with purple kale, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans and pan gravy made with arrowroot powder and homemade chicken stock. Mmmmm.