Recipe by Bruce Aidells, December 2015, Fine Cooking Magazine, (c) 2015 by The Taunton Press Inc. www.finecooking.com
Holiday meals can be challenging for both one’s culinary skills and an already stressed pocket book. For many, the yearly holiday centerpiece is often a standing rib roast of beef (prime rib). This is an expensive cut and ideal for 6-12 people or more. This year try something new, equally extraordinary, and no less delicious.
A roasted rack or pork (pork loin rib roast) fits the bill perfectly and is a less expensive alternative to a beef rib roast, and great for a gathering of 6 to 8. Better still—especially if you’re overwhelmed by holiday anxiety—is that the recipe is very easy to make. Simply season the roast, preferably the night before, and pop it into the oven the next day. Your only task is to make sure the roast is not overcooked, but juicy and tender.
Don’t worry because achieving the perfect final temperature is easily accomplished with the use of an accurate instant-read thermometer: the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. Follow these instructions on cooking doneness temperatures and you will have crowd-pleasing results every time. To add a final touch of elegance, the recipe is finished with a morel mushroom pan sauce, which transforms the roast from simply tasty to spectacular.
Herb-Roasted Rack Of Pork With Morel Cream Sauce
This roast gets much of its flavor from an aromatic paste of garlic, herbs, and fennel. Be sure to rub the meat with the paste a day in advance to give it plenty of time to add flavor.
Serves 6 to 8
For The Pork
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbs. ground fennel seed or 2 tsp. fennel pollen
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1 6-8 bone rack of pork, chine bone removed, bones frenched, and fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
For The Sauce
1 oz. dried morel mushrooms
3/4 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
SEASON THE PORK
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, sage, thyme, fennel seed or pollen, 1 Tbs. salt, and 1/2 Tbs. pepper to form a paste. Rub the herb paste all over the pork roast. Place the roast bone side down on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
ROAST THE PORK
Two hours before roasting, remove the roast from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Insert the ChefAlarm probe into the center of the roast, avoiding bone.
Roast the pork until it’s golden on the top—about 20 to 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F (177°C), and continue roasting until your ThermoWorks ChefAlarm reads 130°F (54°C)—an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
Cooking Tip: Use an Instant-Read Thermometer with an Alarm to Determine Doneness
Set your ThermoWorks ChefAlarm high alarm to go off when the pork reaches 130°F (54°C), and you won’t have to keep opening the oven to check on the roast. Once the alarm goes off, check a couple of other areas of the roast with your Thermapen to make sure the whole roast is at the correct temperature.
Transfer the roast to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest 15 to 25 minutes.
Cooking Tip: Allow for Carry-Over Cooking
Today’s pork is very lean and can become tough if it overcooks. Cooking the meat to a final temperature of 145°F (63°C) ensures that it’ll be tender and juicy. A pull temperature of 130°F (54°C) allows for carryover cooking to bring the meat to its perfect final temperature.
MAKE THE SAUCE
While the roast is in the oven, soak the morels in 1 cup warm water until soft—20 to 30 minutes. Lift the morels out of the water, gently squeezing the excess back into the bowl. Cut any large morels into bite-size pieces, and set aside. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter set in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl; set aside.
After transferring the roast to the carving board, pour off and discard any fat from the baking sheet. Add the wine to the baking sheet and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spatula. Transfer the liquid to a small, wide saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup—3 to 5 minutes. Strain through the fine-mesh sieve and return to the pan.
Add the morels and their soaking liquid, the broth, 3/4 cup of cream, and the thyme. Boil until reduced to about 2 cups—about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 2 Tbs. cream, and then whisk this slurry into the sauce. Simmer briefly until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice the pork between the bones into chops and serve with the sauce.
If you love this recipe, and want to get more awesome recipes and meat advice from Bruce Aidells, then pick up his amazing cookbook “Great Meat Cookbook”
For more wonderful tips and recipes from America’s meat guru, Bruce Aidells. Check out his detailed 3 hour cooking class, Cooking the Perfect Steak