Brined Pork Roast
I have often brined meats before cooking as it not only helps keep them moist and juicy, but is also a great way of infusing flavor. The technique is most commonly used for smaller pieces of meat intended for the barbecue, but it also produces great results with small roasts. With pork, you can oven-roast a lean-cut and avoid the dried-out effect that often results and have especially well flavored slices for a regular roast pork dinner. Best of all (and the reason I like using this technique) is that it makes absolutely super, deli-style, cold cuts.
This is the small roast I am using. It weighs just a shade under four pounds and has been trimmed of most of the excess fat. As you can see, the muscle mass itself is very lean and largely devoid of any ‘marbling’. There is no absolute rule against using fatty cuts of pork when brining but those cuts tend to baste themselves and the brining process lends itself much more to white meats that tend to dry out in roasting.
The Basic Method for Brining Meat
I like using the coarse, non-iodized, Kosher Salt for brining and the general rule of thumb is to use 1 cup for each gallon (four quarts/liters) of water. Sugar is not a requirement but it is frequently added to brines for flavor. Beyond that, you can experiment us much as you like with other seasonings and additives. The ingredients I have used, listed in the recipe card below, are all fairly easy to source and produce a nice, delicate result.
To make the brine, add the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil over a moderate flame. When all the sugar and salt is dissolved, remove the pot from the heat and let cool completely.
When the brine is cool, immerse the meat, making sure it is covered. In the above picture, it may look like the meat is floating at the top but, in fact, it is on the bottom and there is a good two inches of liquid above it. Put the brine in the fridge or other cool place and let sit for a full 24 hours.
With a bigger cut, approaching 10 pounds or more, a full two days would be fine, but that’s a bit much for my little roast. Smaller pieces, thick pork chops or the tenderloin, for example, should be brined for no more than half-a day (or less, even, depending upon thickness).
Cooking a Brined Roast
After brining, remove the roast and rinse it well under running water and then pat dry. Whether you add a glaze or not is up to you and, again, you can get as inventive as you wish. Here, I mixed 2 tablespoons each of prepared mustard and maple syrup with a pinch each of thyme and sage, then brushed it over the roast.
I cooked my roast at 325 degrees for 90 minutes and then turned the heat up to 425 for the last 30 minutes to brown. Once the roast is removed from the oven, you need to let it rest for at least 5 or ten minutes before carving for the table.
As I mentioned, I especially like brined pork roast for making cold-cuts and sandwiches. For best results, once the roast is cool, wrap it very tightly in cling film and let it chill in the refrigerator. If you have a bacon-slicer, you can make those very thin deli-style slices if you like, but, here, I have sliced mine quite thickly. They are terrific on just a regular western sandwich with, perhaps, sauerkraut, or onion, etc., but are equally at home on a Vietnamese style Bánh mì Roll.
Your Recipe Card:
Brined Pork Roast
- 1 4 lb Pork Roast
- 1 Gallon 4 liters water;
- 1 cup Kosher Salt;
- 1 Cup Sugar;
- 2 Tbsp. each Peppercorns Fennel Seed and Coriander Seed;
- 1 Tbsp. Black Mustard Seed;
- 2 small pieces dried Root Ginger.
- Add everything except the Pork Roast to a pot and bring it to a boil over a moderate flame. When all the sugar and salt is dissolved, remove the pot from the heat and let cool completely.
- Trim any excess fat from the pork roast and immerse it in the brine, ensuring it is well covered.
- Refrigerate the brine and roast for 24 hours.
- Remove the roast from the brine and rinse well. Pat dry, and, if desired, glaze with BBQ sauce, Mustard and Honey, or whatever you wish.
- Bake in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hours and then turn up the heat to 425 degrees for a further 30 minutes or so to allow the roast to brown.
- Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.