I decided to do this rack of pork since it's been while since I pulled off anything that could be considered a main course. Why the rack of pork and not any of the million other main courses in the book you might ask? Mostly because I'm very lacking in the stock department right now and nearly every other recipe requires some kind of stock or sauce. That's what we call, in the business, foreshadowing so keep your eyes peeled.
The first step was to brine the pork. That's not quite true. The first step was to go and buy it. This was, aside from possibly turkey at Thanksgiving, the largest piece of meat that I've ever purchased. The nice people at Whole Foods were kind enough to cut me a piece almost exactly the size that I needed, which just happened to be four and a half pounds.
There it is in all its lazy, flopped over glory. After the pork had been brined for a day, rinsed off and patted dry, I cut a shallow crosshatch pattern into the fat on the topside of the roast. This helps the rendering of the fat as well as makes it a bit easier for the meat to absorb some of its accompanying flavors.
Next up was to tie the roast to force it into a uniform shape that would allow for consistent cooking throughout the entire piece of meat. The Keller method involves using a needle threaded with kitchen twine, which I did not have. I made do, somewhat successfully, by just tying the twine around the entire roast and pulling it fairly tight. It forced the meat into more of a round shape. It wasn't perfect since I was still wrapping the twine around the ribs, but it was certainly an improvement. Check out the difference between the first and last pictures of this post and you can see the different shapes of the chops.
Once the meat was tied up I seasoned it with salt and pepper and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. After that, it was time to cook.
The first step was to sear the roast. I used my fancy dutch oven for this, and it worked absolutely perfectly. I added just a bit of canola oil to the heated dutch oven, followed by a tablespoon of butter, and then seared the pork on all sides for a total of about 5 minutes. I threw in a little bit of thyme and some whole garlic cloves and let them cook in the oil for a few minutes.
I turned the roast meet side up and covered it with some of the thyme and garlic. Into the oven it went for 15 minutes, after which I added a bit more butter to the pan, basted the meat, and returned it to the oven. The recipe said it would be done after just fifteen more minutes, but I found that it took close to an additional 30 minutes after that (an hour total). I took out the roast and let it sit for about fifteen minutes to allow the juices to distribute themselves and for a bit of carryover cooking.
It looks pretty good, right? After the fifteen minutes were up, I quickly snapped off the twine and sliced the meat between the ribs into some pretty large chops.
That looks really good. And it was. In fact, it was better than really good. It was probably the best pork I've ever had, save maybe some BBQ, but that's a totally different animal. Not literally, figuratively. It was incredibly juicy, tasted of the herbs and garlic, and perfectly cooked. The inside was ideal and the sear on the outside was great as well. When we ate it for lunch the next day I was expecting your typical dry, reheated pork. Somehow though it was still juicier than almost any pork I'd had previously. All of this for probably only 20 minutes of active cooking time and maybe 90 minutes total. It would have easily served six or eight people, so it could be a great dinner entree.