Citrus, Fennel and Thyme Roast Pork Loin
This is one of those wonderful recipes that has saved me from all sorts of last minute panics. People coming for dinner and I can’t think of what to make: this pork roast more often than not, will be what I turn to. There’s something about a roast that gives the impression that you laboured more than you really did (but that can be our little secret!). Roasts just seem to mean company is coming.
Because I’m using a pork loin cut, and not a tenderloin, it may take a tad longer to cook, but it will end up being way juicier than what often ends up happening with tenderloins. And when I say a tad longer, I’m not saying that this is an all afternoon recipe. The roast is in the oven for just under or about 1 hour total. But it will still have all the juiciness of a good pork shoulder and the tenderness of a tenderloin.
Remember back in the day there was a commercial calling pork ‘the other white meat’? It’s true. Depending on the cut, it is really pretty lean, full of protein, and lends itself to all sorts of flavours. We love a good thick, pork chop- that perfect caramelized and crispy outside, and tender, juicy inside. Add a mustard sauce, and I’m in my happy place.
So a pork loin, with the bones attached, is really a bunch of pork chops all lined up, right? I love getting a roast with the bones attached, but that makes for a different cooking time. Today’s recipe is all about flavour, and turn around time. Hence, the boneless roast below.
The star of this recipe is the spice rub. Oh, it’s not even really a rub. Just more of a seasoning blend. It’s a fabulous combo of citrus zest (orange is best) fennel seeds, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. I grind all of these ingredients with a mortar and pestle. But you can easily throw them all into a little blender (Bullit type, you know what I mean, right?) and whiz them together. And then you’re going to rub the entire outside of the roast with the mixture.
Adding parsnips or carrots (or both) or even fennel to the roast is a wonderful exchange of flavours. As the pork roasts away, the fats get mingled with that fantastic seasoning blend and drip all over the veggies. These flavours were made for these veggies. Add some mashed or roasted potatoes, and you’ve got a great little meal.
I love making this for just Jim and I as well. I just have the butcher cut me a smaller roast. Really, including the bit of peeling, cutting and crushing (spice blend), dinner is still ready well within an hour and a quarter. And you could even cut this prep time down, by having the spice blend prepared and put into a container in the fridge, as well as the veggies all cut up and stored in tupperware. That way, if it’s a weeknight, you could still have this onto the table not long after you walk in the door.
I’m telling you, after letting the roast rest and then slicing it and spreading out the slices on a platter, adding the veggies and a garnish or two, and this will impress even the most demanding of company. The aromas will have already tempted them. And then the visual will cement the conclusion that you are a really great cook!! Which of course, you are. 🙂
Citrus, Fennel and Thyme Roast Pork Loin
A juicy pork roast flavoured with orange, fennel and thyme, which also flavour the veggies that are roasting along, make for a festive and aromatic dinner for two or more. Perfect for company!
- 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 2-3 lb boneless pork loin roast tied
- 1 lb carrots or parsnips (or both) cut into sticks about 1/2 inch thick by 2-3 inches long
- 1/2 lb fennel bulb cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
- 16-20 fingerling potatoes scrubbed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Place the orange zest, fennel seeds, thyme, salt and pepper in a small blender or spice grinder and grind till coarsely chopped together (alternately you can use a mortar and pestle- just make sure the fennel gets broken down well)
Rub the spice mixture all over the pork roast.
Transfer the roast to a large, oven proof skillet or baking dish. One that will hold all of the other veggies as well. If you don't have one large enough, you can roast the potatoes separately.)
Roast the pork for 20 minutes. While the pork is roasting, prepare the carrots and parsnips, fennel, and potatoes by placing them all in a bowl and tossing them with the olive oil and seasoning them well with salt and pepper.
Arrange the veggies around the pork. If they will not all fit in the one pan, place the potatoes into a separate pan at this time as well.
Place them all back into the oven.
Roast another 20 minutes.
Stir the veggies around, ensuring that they are browning evenly.
Roast until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 140F. This should take about 15 minutes longer, depending on the size of your roast. You don't want to cook it beyond this point, or it will dry out.
Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover loosely with tented tin foil. Let rest for at least 10 minutes.
Check the veggies- they should be done. But if you would like some more caramelizing, another 5 or so minutes should do it.
Place the cooked veggies onto a warming platter or bowl. Cover with foil while you prepare the sauce.
Place the skillet (if you were using a skillet) onto a stove burner set at medium high. (if you were using a baking dish, remove all juices and scrape any bits from the bottom, into a sauce pan. Place on burner.
Add the freshly squeezed orange juice to the pan juices. Bring to a boil. Reduce slightly. Then add the chicken stock and cook, stirring, until everything has reduced into a glorious sauce. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper.
Slice the pork into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on a platter. Arrange the veggies around the roast. You can drizzle the sauce over the meat at this time or serve it on the side.
This is a great recipe to personalize. If I am making it just for the two of us, I just have the butcher cut me a smaller roast. And then I reduce all the rest by half. You can judge how many veggies and potatoes you think you'd like. Maybe you want to make enough for leftovers.
I state that you can use 16-20 fingerling potatoes. This would be around 4-5 potatoes per person if you are cooking a meal for 4. If you can't find fingerlings, just use baby new, or even larger Yukon potatoes, cut into large bite size pieces.