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dry pork loin- suggestions to improve

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I haven't cooked pork loin in soooo long & now I remember why.
I cant seem to prevent it from drying out no matter what I try.

I would like to be able to use "unseasoned" pork but perhaps that just isn't possible any more?? I cooked my small loin piece (2.5 pounds) at 300 degrees on a rack, over a little water in the bottom of a (fairly large) pan. I covered with a lid for the first 30 minutes. Then removed the lid and cooked for another 20 minutes till juices almost ran clear and internal temp was 145. I let it rest, tented, and the internal temp rose to 150. It should have been wonderfull but it was still verging on dry and chewy.

Should I be brining my unseasoned pork before cooking or am I doing something wrong? Would it help if I used a much smaller pan so as not to allow so much space with in the pan I am cooking? In stead of using such a low temperature should I start off high and then reduce? If you brine, what amounts do you use?

OR....Suggestions would be much appreciated.

doodle
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post #2 of 14
Are you cooking "pork loin" or "pork tenderloin"?
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Chef,
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
pork loin - not tenderloin - I know it is small but it is a plain loin

doodle
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post #4 of 14
It's such a small pieces I would cook it just like tenderloin. I bring it up to room temperature, then I season (salt, pepper, crushed garlic, thyme, olive oil). Sear in a hot pan until all sides are golden, then finish off in the oven until desired temperature. I'm not a fan of gravies and pan sauces usually but last time I made this I served it with a blue cheese risotto and the creaminess of the risotto was great contrast to the meat.

But like you I've had awful experiences with pork loin (normal size). So dry that it was inedible! I'd love to hear suggestions from others about how to really cook a pork loin.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 14
I'd say your temps are about 10 degrees too high. I pull my roast loins at 135, or try to, usually it's more like 137 or 8. After resting it's 140-145 and plenty juicy. Other roasts I leave in a bit longer, but loin has almost no internal fat and the juices go away real quick. There isn't a whole lot of wiggle room between done just right and ruined. I've also tried brining, but haven't found it worth the trouble with pork loin.
post #6 of 14
I'd say elchivito is correct.

All of the published temperature figures can be misleading, because they refer to the finished temperatures (i.e., after resting). So if you cook to the target temp, then rest the meat, it will be cooked further than you want.

This is particularly a problem with modern pork, which has been bred to be less fatty to begin with. And the loin is a rather lean piece on top of that.

When you cook your next loin, do not remove any of the top cap fat. After searing (if you do), cook it with the top cap upwards. And only go to 135F. Then let it rest, tented.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 14
Sous-vide in a bag with a bunch-o-stuff then brown it in scorching pan very quickly ;)

ya know....if you had an immersion circulator (or one of those temp control devices for your rice cooker/crock pot)
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
I took the after cooking flavoured pork water and added it to my carmelized balsamic onions which I deglazed with some white wine. I love pan sauces Koukouvagia and so I take advantage of using them when ever possible. Fortunately this one allowed me to eat my endevor instead of having to through it out.

I did think of treating it like a piece of tenderloin by searing it first but I was hoping to avaid that if possible.

doodle
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post #9 of 14
You're not doing much wrong actually.

But here are some tips to help you avoid dry pork. Roasting in a steamy environment won't help you much. You don't need all that water, nor do you need the tent. I suggest roasting over a pan with just enough liquid to protect the meat juices which drop into it. Or better yet, filled with some aromatics.

The biggest problem in terms of what you're doing is your temperature, which is neither here nor there for anything as lean as modern, American pork loin. Your little roast is too small to go into a hot oven, and then drop the temperature. It would be cooked before the temp slowed down much, defeating the purpose. You'd be better served by choosing "low and slow," or regular. I think regular, which is 350, would be the easiest -- all things considered.

The purpose of starting hot, then going slow is to get a sear on the surface, then coast gently into doneness. You really ought to sear a piece that small before roasting -- but it's not absolutely necessary.

Alternatively, the loin could be cooked low and slow; but that's a different thing and not very good for cooking to the medium/medium-well range you're going for.

One of the most common ways to prevent dryness in pork is to "bard" it. "Barding" means draping something fatty over the surface. You'd probably be best served by bacon.

Something similar, which might be more to your liking is a "wet rub." You said you roasted your little piece of meat unseasoned. Mistake. Proper seasoning will form a "bark" on the meat which will make it juicier.

You can make a nice wet rub my putting half an apple and half an onion in the processor (or blender), a little bit of fresh ginger, a couple of cloves of garlic, a couple of tbs of brown sugar; salt, pepper, thyme, sage and paprika to taste; and just enough extra virgin olive oil (couple of tbs) to form a stiff paste. Rub it onto the meat before putting it on the rack.

A dry rub is whatever dry seasonings you like -- could be just salt and pepper or could be a lot more complicated. What makes it a "rub" instead of just seasoning is beginning with a "slather." Most people just use a little oil. Mayonnaise works very well. So, surprisingly does ordinary baseball mustard -- which doesn't leave nearly as much taste as you think it might (because it mostly tastes like vinegar to begin with).

Oil,salt and pepper are near ideal seasonings for a pork roast.

This whole discussion begs the question of why you would cook unseasoned to begin with. WTF? I'd really like to hear your reasoning.

Get into the habit of trussing roasts before cooking them. It makes a difference.

Let's talk about what you're not doing.

One thing you can do along with some or all of the things already mentioned is brining. I routinely brine any piece of pork small enough to handle conveniently. Here's one good, easy brine that should give you the idea. Add 1/4 cup of (not iodized) ordinary table salt (or 1/3 cup of Diamond kosher) and 1/3 of sugar and 1/2 an onion (cut coarse) to a quart of water. Heat and stir only until the salt and sugar dissolve -- no need to boil. Add a pint of apple or white grape juice, 3/4 cup cider vinegar, and enough ice to chill (an amount made from a pint of water). Submerge your pork in the brine and let it sit for four hours to overnight (It takes a brine this strong about 45 minutes per inch of meat to penetrate. If you taste the brine -- always a good idea -- it should not taste good. It should taste unpleasantly salty, sweet, sour and watery -- all at the same time.

There are of course a variety of brine recipes. Each will add a slightly different flavor profile, and each will make your roast far juicier.

Better than brining, easier and surer too, is injecting.

As to final temperature. Since trichinosis is no longer a problem it's become fashionalbe to eat pork progressively less well done. However, most people do not like any rareness at all in pork. An acceptable compromise is at 150F - 155F. I don't think your temperature was a problem, but if you can convince your family to eat slightly less cooked pork, you'll get a slightly juicier product.

BDL
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post #10 of 14
>Get into the habit of trussing roasts before cooking them. It makes a difference.<

What difference, BDL?

Only time I truss is to even things up for balance or appearance. Unless I'm stuffing a pork loin roast, there's rarely need for trussing, IMO.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 14
What they said :)

You could also keep moisture happening by stuffing it with a fairly moist fruity mix, say prunes soaked overnight in port, some sage leaves for flavour, even some baby english spinach leaves or whatever tickles your fancy. You'll need to tie with string of course - could even wrap in some streaky bacon to protect it from drying even further.

Or marinade for few hours/overnight in white wine, lemon, oil, rosemary and pepper. Drain, pat dry, sear briefly to brown then roast.

Or cook as for a beef welliington. The duc sel (sp?) will add moisture and the pastry will keep that moisture in - make sure to sear meat first.

Use a thermometer to get it to a safe internal temp.

Hope this helped :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks for the advice everyone, I will recap to make sure I got it right but first I will answer your question boar_d_laze (-- I will also try the brine ingredients and ratio you suggested)

When I said unseasoned, I meant not pumped or injected before I buy it, I didn't mean no rubs, spices or flavourings. The vast majority of store bought pork here in my area is labeled seasoned and that refers to the fact that it was pumped in some way. I have a supplier that sells - so they say - unseasoned pork.

I did salt & pepper the exterior of the roast but I didn't oil it. I know how lean the "new" pork is today and because I haven't brined or marinated a pork loin before I wasn't sure if it would make much of a difference. What I have read so far is that some do and some don't see any advantage.

I would prefer not to do an injection but how do you feel about - sort of - barding within the meat itself by using a bit of nicely flavoured (sage, garlic, wine, salt & pepper) ground pork and diced bacon (more fat) pushed into a few well placed slits that travel the full front to back depth of the meat?

My goal is to get the basic cooking method straightened out first so I could add this twist.

So ..... I am going to brine, sear first and then cook on a rack with even less water under than before, even though I didn't have that much to begin with, in an open roasting pan at 350 degrees till I reach an internal temp of just under 140 before I pull it out to rest. If I do add my internal barding idea I will also truss the meat but the pieces I used were pretty uniform so I didn't see the need.

Did I miss anything?

doodle
Life is too short to eat bad food!
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post #13 of 14
By the way, welcome to the forum doodle, I see the same willingness in you that I have about learning new ways to make things better, especially about how you want to get the basics of roasting the loin right before doing variations (me too). Don't be discouraged if several people say several different things, that's the benefit of being on a forum like this one. There's more than 1 way to prepare a meal successfully and it helps to have the accounts of other people. Good luck with that loin.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #14 of 14
Your plan sounds pretty good to me. The only caveat I can give is that you're cooking to a lower temperature than many people prever. I can't muster a lot of alarm, because that's about the temperature I like it.

"Internal barding," wonderful! It's actually called "larding." The easiest way to do it is to buy something caled a "larding needle," which is a long needels with a clamp at one end. Most people use seasoned streaky bacon as the fat, which is called a "lardon." An alternative to a special larding needle is to poke a hole through your roast with a sharpening steel then force the fat through the hole with it, the handle of a spoon, or the like.

One of the nice things about larding is that the lardon's leave a visible trace when you slice the roast. So make sure to make a pretty pattern.

FWIW, you shouldn't need to both lard and brine. If I were your cooking teacher instead of just a friend, I'd have you do them separately. However, nothing succeeds like excess. So what the hey!

Sorry to hear about the "pumping" sitaution in your area. Other people's brines and injects, especially packers', tend not to be very good. As a process, injection is a relatively efficient way of ensuring a juicy roast. But it is most definitely something you must do yourself. Ironic that the same people who created the ultra-lean north American pig, now sell "enhanced" meat because the new pork dries so easily.

Forgive me for using your answer to respond to someone else's question. Trussing helps keep roasts juicier, in theory anyway. I was told that this is because of their more compact shape. Since a pork loin is so perfectly symmetrical to begin with, trussing doesn't make a lot of difference to the shape, other than to make little ring indentations. Whether it works or not I can't help myself, I was trained to truss so I truss.

We truss the world,
BDL
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