This recipe merges the classic combo of apples and pork with potatoes and onions for an easy-to-prepare, seasonal roast. Brining the meat is optional, but that step enhances the meat's flavor tremendously.
A remote thermometer takes the guesswork out of roasting by notifying you when the meat has reached the correct internal temperature. You'll need kitchen twine for the roast.
Make Ahead: The meat needs to be brined for at least 6 hours and up to a day before roasting; the jus can be made a day in advance.
- For the brine and pork
- One 2 1/2-to-3-pound boneless pork loin, fat trimmed to a thickness of 1/4 inch
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8 cups cool water
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 medium russet potatoes
- 2 medium apples, preferably Pink Lady, reserving the peelings and cores
- 2 large yellow onions, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 large fresh bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
- For the jus
- 1 cup hard cider
- 1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth (may substitute veal stock)
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- Several sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
For the brine and pork: Use kitchen twine to tie the roast at 1-inch intervals.
Open a large zip-top bag and seat it inside a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of salt, bay leaf, rosemary, black peppercorns, garlic and water. Seal the bag and massage it to dissolve the salt. Add the pork loin and reseal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible so the meat will be submerged. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove the pork loin from the bag, discarding the brine. Use paper towels to dry the meat, then season it liberally with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Have ready a large bowl of cool water mixed with the lemon juice. Peel the potatoes and cut each one lengthwise into 8 wedges, submerging them in the water as you go along to keep them from turning brown.
Peel and core the apples, placing the peels and cores in a small saucepan. Cut both apples lengthwise into 8 wedges and add them to the bowl with the potatoes.
Place the onions in a large bowl. Drain the apples and potatoes, and dry them completely on paper towels. Add them to the onions along with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the bay leaves, the remaining teaspoon of the salt and the ground black pepper. Stir to coat the apples and vegetables evenly.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, flameproof roasting pan set across two burners over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, place the pork loin (fat side down) at the center of the pan and distribute the apple mixture evenly around it. Brown the meat for about 2 minutes on each side. Do not stir the apple mixture. Place the probe of a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the roast and set the pan in the oven. Roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, 60 to 70 minutes. Rest the meat for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the jus: Add the cider, broth, bay leaf and thyme sprigs to the apple peelings. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mixture has reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Strain the liquid into a separate saucepan, then add the chopped thyme and garlic. Keep warm over the lowest possible stovetop setting.
To serve, transfer the roast to a cutting board. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and place them on a warm platter. Sprinkle the rosemary over the apples, potatoes and onions; use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a warm serving bowl. Add any juices in the roasting pan to the jus, which should be passed at the table and spooned over the pork.
From Washington food writer David Hagedorn, co-author with chef Cathal Armstrong of "My Irish Table: Recipes From the Homeland and Restaurant Eve" (Ten Speed Press, March 2014).
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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