Most hams are cured and pre-cooked, but pork roasts are sold raw, so you must cook them thoroughly. Long, slow baking is an ideal way to make a pork roast because you can pop it in the oven and leave it for a few hours. Check it every hour, though, and add liquid, such as apple juice or broth, if it seems dry. Keep it on a low temperature and don't cover it.
Long, slow roasting requires a low oven heat -- 300 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Bake the pork roast for 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the roast, or until the meat is falling apart and completely cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted in the middle should read 145 F. At this point, raise the heat to 375 degrees and cook the pork an additional 20 to 30 minutes. This will create a golden brown color and crispy crust.
You might worry about baking a pork roast at low temperatures for so long, but at 300 degrees, the roast is hot enough that bacteria can't grow. Store raw pork roast in the refrigerator for no more than two days and refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of serving. Eat the leftovers within two days to ensure a safe product.
Pork roast has a sweet flavor and tender texture, but a few additional steps can make it even more delicious. Unwrap the pork roast one or two days before cooking it. Rub salt and pepper evenly over the outside. Cover and refrigerate the roast. Salting a roast ahead improves both the taste and texture. Another trick is to remove the roast from the refrigerator 30 minutes to one hour before cooking time. Allowing it to come almost to room temperature ensures that it will brown instead of steam in the oven.
A pork roast can be used in myriad ways. Bake it with red wine, carrots, onions and potatoes for a quick and easy one-pot meal. Shred the leftovers for pulled pork sandwiches or toss them into omelets and quesadillas. Try shredded pork roast in soups, such as posole and green chili, or serve it with mashed potatoes and gravy. Leftovers from one simple pork roast can make three or four meals.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."