Monday, September 8, 2008

an amuse bouche

For my first post here I would like to start with a small sampling of the type of food this blog will discuss. It is one of my favorite recipes that seems fitting for the starting of Fall. Each September when we in the northeast start to get sporadic days of sub scorching temperatures and I replace flip-flops and shorts with shoes and jeans I always prematurely begin to dream of all things I relate to Fall. Each year the item I look forward to making and eating most is a whole pork loin, brined overnight in a special Fall inspired mixture, grilled to perfection over charcoal.


1 whole pork loin - about 3 lbs, boneless and skinless, with some fat left on for flavor, preferably from the butcher and not the small pre-packaged ones carried by most groceries. obviously this will be cut to a weight that reflects how many you will serve it to, calculate about a half pound per person.

For the brine:

Water - enough to submerse whole loin
Salt - 1 cup per 1 gallon of water
Sugar - 1/2 cup per gallon of water
Juniper Berries - 1 tbs.
Garlic - several cloves
Several rosemary sprigs
Peppercorns - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 large, chopped

Start by pouring one gallon of water into a large container that will fit all of the water and the loin. Mix in 1 cup of table salt per every 1 gallon of water until you have enough mixture to submerse the whole loin. For this brine we will add to the salt/water mixture: 1 tablespoon of fresh juniper berries, crushed, several cloves of garlic, whole, several sprigs of rosemary, the chopped onion and the peppercorns. Mix well and add the loin to the mixture making sure it is completely submersed. Cover and let sit overnight or for at least 12 hours.

I would not want to cook this particular dish without a charcoal grill handy, yet for those of you without access to a charcoal grill, a gas grill is fine, and if you must, the oven should work fine as well. We will focus on cooking this on a charcoal grill here as it certainly adds a whole new dimension to this loin that you will not get with any other method. Prepare the coals, preferably shaggy chunk, yet normal charcoal is fine. Let the grill preheat for a good 10 minutes to get it to a temperature of about 300 to 350 degrees. Take the loin out of the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel. Place it on the center of the grill, close and let cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes open the grill and check the bottom of the loin to make sure it has cooked to a point that there is a dark to black crust and good grill lines (see picture at top right). Turn over, cover, let cook for another 30 minutes. Normally a pork loin will need about 20 minutes per pound for a normal 3 to 5 pound cut as used in this recipe. When the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees after the last 30 minutes, the loin is done. Take the loin off the grill and cover in a large piece of tin foil and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. After 15 minutes have passed take the loin out of the foil and onto a large cutting board. Cut 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices the whole of the loin and serve.

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