A pork loin is naturally succulent and makes for a satisfying meal, but its mild taste benefits from significant extra flavoring. Brining or marinating works well, and brine also helps keep the meat moist during cooking. With or without one of these extra steps, prep is fairly simple and straightforward, mostly limited to flavoring the pork. Half a boneless loin roasts in well under an hour, and this mostly hands-off process is an easy way for even novice home cooks to turn out a delicious meal.
Remove the half pork loin from the refrigerator and set it out at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Eliminating its chill helps it cook more evenly.
Center an oven rack. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes. Prep a shallow roasting pan by covering the bottom with foil and greasing the rack with nonstick spray or cooking oil to prevent sticking.
Season the meat to taste with salt, pepper and other complementary herbs, spices and aromatics. Thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, tarragon, sage, minced garlic or garlic powder, minced ginger and citrus zest all work nicely with pork. Herbs de Provence, Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning or other seasoning mixtures or meat rubs work well, too.
Put the pork cut on the rack of the roasting pan, fat side up. Put it into the middle of the oven and roast it for approximately 20 minutes per pound. A typical boneless half pork loin weighs around 1 to 2 pounds, so it takes about 20 to 40 minutes. Read the center of the meat's internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it's done when it reaches 145 F.
Move the pork onto a serving tray. Rest it for about 10 minutes before serving.
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- Brine for moister pork. Use water, fruit juice, apple cider, wine, beer, tea, broth, soy sauce or another suitable liquids. Mix in at least 1/3 cup kosher salt per 4 cups of liquid and about the same amount of sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or other sweetener. Add in complementary herbs, spices and aromatics to taste. Submerse and soak the pork in a nonreactive dish for one to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Marinate for more flavorful pork. Mix a flavorful acidic liquid, such as barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, wine, fruit juice or apple cider with an equal amount of cooking oil. Season the marinade with salt and other complementary herbs, spices and aromatics. Soak the half loin for 1 to 24 hours in the refrigerator, turning once halfway through.
- You may choose to trim some fat off the loin, but leave at least some on; it bastes the meat as it melts in the oven, adding flavor and helping brown the outside.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, travel, and lifestyle writer living in Orlando, Florida. He has professional experience to complement his love of cooking and eating, having worked for 10 years both front- and back-of-house in casual and fine dining restaurants. He has written print and web pieces on food and drink topics for Visit Florida, Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and other publications.