Like I believe most moms do, mine would make my favorite meals for me when I came home from college. That usually involved a pork loin roasted over potatoes, so that the potatoes not only become crisp from the oven, they soak up any pork drippings for extra flavor. My mom’s homemade applesauce would round out the meal.
Simple as it is, I’ve never tried to replicate this meal. It wouldn’t be quite the same, I’m sure. Still, I love pork roast. It doesn’t seem like a popular cut of meat, and while I know it can easily dry out since it’s so lean, when it’s cooked right, it can be really special.
Surely smothering the pork with shallots and mustard and surrounding it with herbs is “cooked right”, and it’s certainly special. Making a winey sauce from the browned bits leftover after roasting the pork can’t hurt matters either. I was surprised, and pleased, by how much herb flavor the meat absorbed. Maybe it can’t beat one of my childhood favorite meals, but it can certainly compete.
1 (4 to 4½-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 rosemary sprigs, divided
8 large thyme sprigs, divided
8 sage sprigs, divided
8 savory sprigs (optional), divided
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
⅓ cup dry vermouth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
2. Pat the pork dry and season with 1¾ teaspoons salt and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Straddle a flameproof roasting pan over 2 burners, then heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown the pork on all sides; transfer to a large plate.
3. Put a metal rack in a pan and arrange half of the herbs down the middle of the rack. Stir together the shallots, garlic, mustard, and 1 tablespoon of the oil and smear over top and sides of roast. Place the roast, fat side up, on top of the herbs. Roast 1 hour. Toss the remaining herbs with the remaining teaspoon of oil and arrange on top of roast.
4. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 to 145°F, 5 to 15 minutes more (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees as it rests). Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 to 25 minutes.
5. While the pork rests, make the sauce. Remove the roasting rack from the pan; discard the herbs from the rack. Straddle the pan across 2 burners over medium heat. Add the vermouth and mustard and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up the brown bits on the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the broth and simmer the 3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup measure. If you have more than 1½ cups, boil to reduce; if less, add water.
6. Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the vermouth mixture and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve pork with sauce.