Authored by Sylvia Cochran in Food and Cooking
Published on 09-17-2009
Learning how to cook a pork loin is actually quite easy. This cut of meat – obviously stemming from the pig – hearkens from the upper rip cage area. That being said, there are the blade loin cut, the sirloin, the center loin, and the tenderloin, which is the most succulent cut of them all. Baking and grilling are the preferred methods of rendering this pork product ready for the dinner table, and intermediate cooks have begun to experiment with various marinades to enhance the flavor experience.
The Perfect Marinade
When learning how to cook a pork loin, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the flavors that will enhance the taste. Brown sugar and cinnamon are natural flavor enhancers, and sherry brings out a bit of the bite the meat has. Mix a tenderizing marinade consisting of quarter cups of soy sauce for tenderizing and brown sugar, two tablespoons each of olive oil and sherry, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and onion powder. Make sure that you use onion powder, not onion salt!
Mix all of these ingredients together and then place your pork loin into the marinade. Using a Ziploc bag is a great idea, since it allows you to squeeze out the air and thereby maximizes the meat to marinade contact. Place the bag into the fridge for about six to eight hours.
How to Cook a Pork Loin: Cooking Methods
After discarding the marinade, place the loin onto a grill or into a baking dish. Grilling or baking is the premier means of cooking this lean cut of meat to perfection. In a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven, an average sized roast will be done in about 30 minutes. On the grill, the odds are good that the meat will be done quicker, so taking its temperature frequently is a must. Purists will insist on washing off the remnants of the marinade before starting the actual cooking process, but those who like the taste of lightly caramelized sugar on to exterior of the loin might not heed this bit of advice.
Avoid Cooking Mistakes
While learning how to cook a pork loin is quite easy, there are a few possible mistakes you should avoid. First and foremost, take the meat’s temperature. The meat is ready when its interior temperature – in the thickest portion – reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter how much time is left on the clock. Seasoned chefs remove the pork loin from the oven at 157 degrees interior temperature to allow the carryover heat to finish the cooking process. Do not overcook the meat or you will undo the effects of the tenderizing marinade you employed earlier.
Another mistake new cooks make – when they are getting acquainted with how to cook a pork loin for the first time — oftentimes revolves around cutting the meat too soon. Allow the loin to rest for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, so the juices may settle. Cut it too soon, and the juices will run right out, leaving the meat drier than needed.