Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is there a right way to cook a pork roast?

My sister from New York City was in town last week to help with preparations for moving our Dad to my house.  One night we catered a dinner for Dad, who is still in his apartment.  We even talked him into having a martini.  (One of his favorite things but he seldom indulges.  Don't you think at age 85 a person could let go of the deferred gratification imperative?)

We enjoyed a beet (roasted) and feta salad.  Also braised red cabbage (from the freezer), baked acorn squash and mashed potatoes.  And pork roast.  A two pound boneless pork loin. I was going to show you a picture but my camera battery died.  Oh well.  You will just have to believe me.

I don't often cook hunks of meat and my sister and I were a bit insecure about the details.  So we consulted the 1997 edition of Joy of  Cooking, the 1962 New Better Homes and Garden ("cherished by over 9,000,000 women"), the 1986 Betty Crocker Cookbook, Country Tastes by Beatrice Ojakangas (one of my favorite cookbook authors) and last but not least The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters - published just a few years ago.

What did we learn?   The path to good eating is not always clear.   Opinions diverge.    Recommendations for oven temperature ranged from 325 to 500 degrees.  Recommendations for internal temperature as measured by a meat thermometer ranged from 130 to 185 degrees. Roasting time was all over the map too.

After some consideration based on the size of the roast and the sum of our life experience we settled on a plan:  400 degrees and internal temperature of 160 degrees.  I think it took about 45 minutes.  We also rubbed some chopped fresh garlic,  salt and pepper and dried rosemary on the roast prior to cooking.  It turned out just fine.

Take home message for anxious cooks:   There is usually more than one way to skin a cat - or roast a piece of pork or cook a vegetable.   Don't be afraid to jump right in and find the ways that work for you.   Use common sense.  Trust your judgment.  Perhaps consult more than one reliable source - books, websites, your favorite blogs, your mother.  Make a few notes when you have success.  And pretty soon you will be cooking the right way - your way.


  1. Wow, this will be fun to read and get me motivated to cook. Great pictures. Someday we'll have to do that kale party.

  2. Re: Dad's seldom drinking martinis--As Hank Hill likes to say, "I do enjoy delaying gratification."