Pound for pound, pork has fewer calories and only a slightly higher fat content than chicken, making it a decent alternative for people watching their weight. Since the pork you buy in 2011 is roughly 50 percent leaner than it was as recently as 25 years ago, it tends to dry out quickly if overcooked. Slow roasting at a low temperature ensures a juicy and flavorful pork roast suitable for slicing or shredding.
Marinating the Pork
Mix the herbs, 1 tbsp. salt and 2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl with just enough olive oil to create a thick paste. Keep the mixture simple, using only one herb, such as oregano, or combine several herbs and seasonings, such as dried, crushed fennel or mustard seeds, thyme or rosemary.
Score the fat on the top of the roast with a sharp knife at 1-inch intervals. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the roast, making sure to get it deep into the scored sections.
Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Cooking the Pork
Remove the roast from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat the onion rings with olive oil and place in the center of a roasting pan. Cut up root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and parsnips, and coat with olive oil. Add the vegetables on top of the onions and season with salt and pepper. Place the roast on top of the vegetables. Place the pan in the preheated oven. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F. Add the wine to the roasting pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil. Cook for an additional four to five hours, or until the pork’s internal temperature reaches 160 F, as measured by a meat thermometer.
Remove the pan from the oven. Lift the pork out of the pan and place it on a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest while preparing the sauce. Remove the onions and vegetables from the roasting pan and set aside. If using apple wedges, leave them in the pan with the liquid.
Making Sauce or Gravy
Use a spoon to skim as much fat as possible from the juices in the pan. Set the pan on a burner on the stove set to medium-high heat. Stir the pan juices, making sure to scrape up any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Pour the juices through a fine sieve and discard any bits left in the sieve. Serve as is for au jus.
Pour the pan juices back into the roasting pan to make a gravy. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium low. Thoroughly mix 2 tbsp. flour into 1/4 cup of cold water, then pour slowly into the juices in the pan. Cook, stirring constantly to avoid lumps, until the gravy has thickened to the desired consistency. Remove from the heat and serve.
Pork and apples are a natural flavor combination. Chef Maria Helm Sinskey suggests using cored, peeled, quartered apples instead of the vegetables. When the pork is cooked, mash them with a fork right in the pan juices to make a tasty applesauce.
Undercooked pork carries bacteria and parasites such as salmonella, trichinosis and toxoplasmosis. Always use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the pork reaches a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.