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Roast Loin of Pork with Rosemary, Sage, and Garlic

From Chronicle Books' Lobel's Meat and Wine

Roast Loin of Pork with Rosemary, Sage, and Garlic

One 4-pound center-cut bone-in pork loin roast with a generous layer of fat left on
1/3 cupextra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish (optional)
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/3 cups Pork Stock (see link) or equal parts canned beef broth and water

Serves 6

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In our version of this Tuscan classic, we perform an easy bit of butchering that results in a moister roast that's simple to carve (see Butcher's Note). You can follow this recipe using a boneless loin pork roast placed on a roasting rack, although the results aren't quite the same. The beauty of this dish is that it is good both hot and, later in the week, sliced even thinner and served cool. We like it with white beans and a sautéed leafy green vegetable such as kale, Swiss chard, or spinach, all drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

Butcher's Note: For this recipe, you begin with a bone-in center-cut pork roast, separate the rack of bones from it, and then, once seasoned, tie the two pieces together curved side up. (You can ask your butcher to remove the ribs for you.) Strapping the ribs on backward provides a protective "rack" to elevate the meat above the roasting pan and minimize moisture loss during cooking. The bone also adds to the drippings for the pan sauce. At the end of cooking, the ribs are simply untied and removed, and the tender meat is easily sliced to ideal thinness. The bones are great to gnaw on. 'What might appear to be an elaborate boning and tying process is really very simple. For a treat, order high-quality heirloom pork from us; its flavor and tenderness make a big difference in this dish.

Wine Note: Though boldly flavored on the outside with herbs and garlic, this pork loin roast still presents, in the end, a very delicate mouthful of pork. Although most of the Sangiovese-based Tuscan wine favorites would work quite well with this classic dish, some are better than others. It is not the particular flavors of these wines that matter; it's their relative weights and textures. Among the many subregions of Chianti itself, we found that the regular, normcile bottlings harmonize best. These are medium- to medium-full-bodied wines with warmly tart black cherry flavors; their tannins offer support and no more. Wines like this should go down without a catch; bigger wines will breathe too much of their alcoholic fire into the delicate pork. From Chianti country, the modest scale and easy drinkability of Badia a Coltibuono's Chianti "Cetamura" is just right. For entertaining, the richer refinement of the Castello di Ama Chianti Classico heightens the experience without hogging the stage. Thinking American? From the North Fork of Long Island, the medium weight and polish of the Schneider Vineyards Cabernet Franc would make a great pair with the richly herbed Tuscan-style pork.

1. Using a sharp knife, separate the rib bones from the loin or ask the butcher to prepare the roast for you (see Butcher's Note). Score the fat on top of the loin in a crosshatch pattern, cutting 1/4 inch deep (don't cut into the flesh).

2. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, sage, rosemary, and black pepper. Rub all but about 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture into the slits in the pork roast and over the entire surface of the loin. Rub the remaining mixture into the ribs. Let the loin and ribs stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. (Alternatively, you can apply the marinade a day before and store the pork, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

3. Preheat the oven to 450°F

4. Very generously salt the loin and ribs on all sides. Tie the loin and ribs together with butcher's twine or kitchen string, with the rounded side up (see Butcher's Note), and put in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the meat, bone side down. Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and roast until an instantread thermometer registers 140°F to 145°F when inserted in the center of the roast, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Put the roasting pan on the stove top and transfer the roast to a cutting board. Let rest, tented loosely with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan, if you like. Add the wine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced by twothirds, 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Add the stock and continue simmering until reduced by almost half (to 1 1/2 cups), 12 to 15 minutes. The pan sauce should be flavorful but still quite liquid, midway between a broth and a sauce in consistency. Cook to reduce further and add salt to taste, if necessary. (For an additional flavor boost, stir a few whole leaves of sage, a small sprig of rosemary, and a crushed clove of garlic into the sauce and let them infuse it while you slice the roast. Remove before serving.)

8. Snip the strings on the roast and separate the loin from the ribs. Slice the loin into slices slightly less than 1/4 inch thick and divide them among serving plates, 4 to 5 slices per plate, laying them attractively over or up against any accompanying vegetables, if using.

9. Slice and plate the ribs or reserve them for another use.

10. Reheat the sauce, if necessary, and spoon it over and around the meat. Serve immediately, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, if you like.

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