Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes
It is not often that a side dish becomes the star but that is what happens in this recipe. The potatoes, oh the potatoes, in this dish are something other-worldly. They are crisp, they are creamy. They are salty and they glisten with the thinnest coating of pork fat (a very, very good thing). It’s a veritable flavor explosion.
In contrast, the pork loin seems almost boring, even though it’s not. It’s roasted meat, how could it be bad? Especially with the flavorful “wet” rub of garlic, rosemary, and sage. The garlic toasts ever so slightly on top of the pork giving a sweet and pungent flavor while the herbs add earthiness. Yet, due to our devotion to low-fat cooking, pork is bred to be lean, lean, lean and hence, the pork is inevitably a bit dry and a bit less flavorful than I know it could be. Nevertheless, it’s a fabulous way to eat pork. Here’s the recipe:
Serves 3-4 people
1 2 lb pork loin
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for sauteing
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp minced sage
1 tsp minced rosemary
4-5 medium potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and herbs in a small bowl. Liberally season the pork loin all over with Kosher salt and pepper. Then rub on the herb mixture. Ideally, place the pork loin on a roasting rack in a roasting pan but you can simply put it on a sheet pan or cookie sheet as well. Place in the preheated oven. Now, immediately, heat up your saute pan(s) with a good bit of olive oil. Saute the potatoes in a single layer, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until they just begin to color, about 10-15 minutes. Use two pans if you have to; it’s important that you get the potatoes in the oven about 15 minutes after you start roasting the pork.
Take the roast out of the oven and place the potatoes underneath the pork. If not using a roasting rack, you can place the pork directly over the potatoes. Put the pork and potatoes back in the oven and roast until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150 degrees. This should take about an hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and tent with foil. Let rest for 1o minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and carve. Toss the potatoes with any pan juice. Serve immediately.
A few notes: 1) The Tuscans call pork loin “arista” which comes from the Greek word aristos which, in turn, means the best. I like the name. 2) The original recipe asks you to cover the pork loin with foil and roast as such for two hours. Perhaps this will result in a more tender loin but I think I prefer the quicker roasting method just for the fact it is quicker. 3) Don’t be afraid to make more potatoes; they’re really that good. If you do, just cook them in stages, starting before you put the pork roast in the oven. It’s important that the potatoes have enough roasting time. 4) This might be the most important thing. Choose a pork loin with a good fat “back” on it. Don’t buy the leanest loin you can find. If you do, you’ll miss out on a good deal of juiciness in the meat as well as a lot of flavor in the potatoes. When it’s this good, splurge a bit on calories. Enjoy! Here’s a picture of the final product: