I don’t frequently cook pork at our house. We have a pretty steady rotation of chicken and fish. I do occasionally buy those premarinaded pork loins and throw them in the freezer when I need a no brainer dinner. But I feel like I’m always seeing delicious pork loin recipes, so the other day I bought a plain pork loin on sale. I promptly put it in the freezer and forgot about it. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was looking in the freezer for some inspiration for dinner when we were having Tim’s dad over, when I spotted the lone, unmarinated pork loin, just daring me to flavor it up. The only problem was, I couldn’t remember any of what seemed like the grillion recipes I had seen before. So I turned, of course, to Rachael Ray and bumped into this balsamic pork loin recipe. It got good reviews, seemed really simple, and I had the herbs needed in the garden, so I went for it.
All I can say is now that I have this little number in my arsenal, I’ll never buy premarinated loins again. This really was so easy and super flavorful and moist. We all loved it. What’s particularly kick a** about this is that it’s studded with cloves of garlic. Let me say that again – studded… with cloves of garlic. As the pork cooks, the garlic infuses right into the meat and when you eat it a bluebird lands on your shoulder and begins to sing. Yes, you are going to love this.
As far as the balsamic, olive oil, and herbs, I didn’t measure (big surprise, I know). It’s really not necessary. You just drizzle until the loin is covered and use as much of the herbs as you like. Just trust your gut!
Now, for the most important part. Are you paying attention? Here’s how you cook your pork loin to the perfect doneness, so it’s cooked all the way through but still juicy. Get one of those digital meat thermometers. Seriously, this thing is magical. Put the probe in the middle of the raw pork and then put it in the oven. Leave it in there the whole time it cooks. Take the loin out of the oven when the thermometer reaches 160, and it will come up to about 165 sitting on the counter. (I know, I know, the safe temperature for pork has been lowered to 145, so if you want to go that route, go ahead. However, it’s still perfectly juicy at 160-165 using my method.) This seems so simple, yet so many of us don’t do this. We guess – and sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. We open the oven door to check, thus releasing heat and slowing down the cooking process. Some of us even commit the ultimate meat sin of cutting into it to see if it’s done, effectively releasing all of the juices and ensuring a dried out piece of jerky. Just cook it with the thermometer in it the whole time. Trust me.
Herbed Balsamic Pork Loin
- 1 – 1.75 to 2 pound pork loin
- 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8-10 cloves of garlic, cracked
- Steak seasoning or coarse salt and pepper
- 1 Tablespoon chopped rosemary (about 3 large sprigs)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped thyme (about 8 sprigs)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Trim the silver skin off the tenderloin with a sharp thin knife.
Place pork loin on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Coat tenderloin in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat. Then drizzle the meat with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat. Cut small “x” slits into meat and insert cracked garlic into meat. Sprinkle meat with steak seasoning (or coarse salt and pepper) and then rub rosemary and thyme onto the meat. Insert thermometer and roast for about an hour, or until internal temperature reaches 145-160, depending on how done you like it.
Let meat rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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