Roast Pork Loin with Rosemary and Fennel

This recipe is from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. Alice recommends cooking this rosemary pork loin over a bed of hardwood coals to add flavor, especially to roasts. For those unable to roast over an open fire, here is a method that approximates the results. Overnight seasoning cures the meat lightly, and the fennel and herb branches perfume the meat as it roasts. Serve with roasted root vegetables.

Ingredients

6-1/2 pound boneless pork loin

8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

Salt and pepper

2-1/2 tablespoons fennel seed

8 branches rosemary

8 branches sage

Optional: extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. One day in advance, lard the pork loin with garlic, making incision into the underside of the roast with a small sharp knife inserting the garlic slices.
  2. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper. Crush the fennel seeds coarsely in a mortar and sprinkle over meat.
  3. Press the rosemary and sage branches into the meat, and using butchers twine, tie up the roast, using a simple slipknot finished with a half hitch every 3 inches. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Bring the pork loin to room temperature.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Roast the pork loin on a rack, uncovered until the internal temperature registers 130°F on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove the roast from the oven. Cover loosely with foil, and let rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes. This allows the juices to stabilize and the roast to continue cooking slowly without drying out. The meat will be moist, with the barest tinge of pink.
  7. Slice the pork and arrange on a warm platter with herb branches. If you wish, drizzle with fruity Tuscan olive oil.

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