It's the time of the year for quick, easy and warmly satisfying meals.
Seasoning a beef or pork roast and tossing it in the oven or the slow cooker fits the bill. A classic set-it-and-forget-it meal, it can also feed a small gathering.
Recently, I picked up a boneless sirloin pork roast for just that reason. Another shopper commented that pork roasts are good because they are solid meat without a whole lot of fat. The sirloin roast is cut from the back of the loin area, so it is a bit leaner, yet hearty tasting. And, besides, the aroma of a nicely seasoned roast is comfort food at its best.
The roast came with netting around it, holding together two pieces of pork. You can leave it on and roast as is or you can remove the netting and cook the two pieces side-by-side.
Or, as I did with today's recipe, remove the netting, season all over with a rub mixture, and retie the roast using kitchen string.
The roast was a nice size -- about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds, enough for six generous servings. And if you're not serving that many, it makes for great leftovers.
Pork roast takes to all kinds of seasoning and methods of cooking.
Whether you roast it in the oven or cook it in the slow cooker, you'll want to sear the roast first.
Most sources will tell you that searing seals in the juices. But a new book from Cook's Illustrated -- "The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen" by the editors of America's Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby, PhD (America's Test Kitchen, $40) -- says that's not true.
During testing, the authors discovered that searing helps develop flavor -- not seal in juices.
"Searing meat adds flavorful crust, but it has nothing to do with juiciness," they said.
Today's recipe is seared first, making for a nicely browned and crisp crust. The outside of the meat is seasoned with a rub that also flavors a simple pan sauce made with sherry.
Make sure you let the roast rest before carving. The internal temperature will continue to rise and the meat will be tender and juicy.
Pork Roast with Herb Crust and Sherry Pan Sauce
Serves 6. Prep time: 15 minutes. Total time: 2 hours. You can replace the fresh herbs in this recipe, but using about 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of the dry version. Or use your favorite premade herb rub.
1 3-pound boneless pork sirloin roast
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper