pork loin, two ways.

We tend to chuckle at the buying habits of humans during a minor emergency – an impending snow day here, for instance, will immediately empty all market shelves of bread, milk, eggs, and sometimes frozen pizzas. Actual emergency shopping isn’t funny, but it’s interesting to observe. I know enough about food and human behavior to know what people gravitate towards: chicken breasts were unfindable for a minute around here, while red meet of any sort was semi-plentiful. Cheese stayed in good shape, but veggie burgers cleared out, as did the chips. Cereal was living life like it was 1985 and there were still prizes in every box, but yogurt didn’t move at nearly the speed I expected it to (probiotics, people…probiotics!)

One thing people seemed to avoid/be hesitate to buy was larger cuts of meat, pork loin among them. Odd, considering how much you can do with a pork loin, including…yeah, chop it up into smaller pork sections and cook it. It’s not hard: in fact, it’s one of the easiest things I cook, and it’s super affordable, but I’ll admit: I forget it’s an option most days as well.

Yes, that’s me up there, trying not to burn down my yard; photos by the amazing Jennifer Silverberg, my permanent partner in crime. If you want to read up on grill tips, head here for the digital issue of the August 2019 Feast Magazine.

Did you grab a pork loin? Smart cookie. If you did, here’s two really easy ways to prepare it. The one above is one I did for a grilling article about a year ago for Feast – it’s the newest column I write, called Crash Course, which I’ll be talking about more here and there in the next few weeks. As it turns out, when you don’t post for a long time, you’ve got a ton of backlog stuff to tell people about. #whoops

This particular recipe is designed for outdoor grilling, but you could easily transition this to indoors by simply marinating it and then using the recipe directions below for how to cook it. it’s got a lot of flavor with a nice amount of heat: not overpowering, but it’ll hit you in all the right ways. Throw any vegetable next to it, maybe a little rice, and you’re set. Or hey: just get on out to your yard and fire up the grill, if you can. It’s a nice respite from being inside all the time, and so long as you don’t have to run out for charcoal, it’s a nice way to maintain a little spring normalcy in your life.

This pork loin is the one I was working on last post: It’s not an official recipe so much as it’s a “just put some things together” non-recipe: grab some herbs, garlic and mustard, a little salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.

Pork Two Ways

For my Gochujang-marinated Pork Loin recipe, head over here: if you’re doing it indoors versus grilling, come back to my instructions below for how to oven-roast.

For my slap-it-together oven-roasted pork loin with herbs, mustard and garlic, here’s what you need:

  • 1 pork loin – about 3 to 4 lbs
  • 2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp of pork-friendly herbs – like thyme, rosemary, and/or sage
  • 2 Tbsp or so of a grainy mustard – spicy, Dijon, whatever you have. If you don’t have the grainy sort, a straight-up Dijon will totally work.
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp high-heat oil, like grapeseed or vegetable
  • 1 large cast iron pan, or a large, shallow dutch oven – something heavy and high-quality that you can fit the loin into comfortably

Gather those things together, and it’s off to the races! First, make sure you let your pork loin sit out for an hour or so to take the chill off: meat always cooks better and more evenly if it’s not fresh from the fridge. While you’re waiting, chop any herbs together finely and stir them in with your mustard, garlic, salt and pepper: add more or less as you wish of any ingredient, but ultimately, you’re looking for a nice thick paste which will stay put when you smear all over the loin. You can’t mess this up.

Once you’re ready, simply preheat your oven to 400˚F. Rub your pork loin all over with your herby mustard paste, add the oil to your cast iron or baker of choice, and set that pork loin right in the middle of it. Throw it in your oven and roast until your pork is cooked but still juicy – I like to go to 140˚F (use the meat thermometer in the thickest center part), take it out, and then tent it to let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

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  • Reply elizabeth April 1, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    In the height of panic-buying here in Baltimore, chicken breasts were also at a premium–at one point the Harris Teeter kept them in the meat counter to prevent people from over-buying, but unfortunately, that didn’t really help on the social distancing part so they would put out a mountain of wrapped breasts and only breasts for a few days too. Things are finally starting to normalize on most fronts save for flour and yeast–those still tend to be tough to find out in the wild.

    • Reply shannon April 14, 2020 at 8:41 am

      I gave in and ordered a brick of yeast: flour we haven’t had a problem with – yet – but i haven’t been to the store in a bit. Yeast has been hard to find for weeks, and I know I’m not the only one took the brick of yeast plunge. 🙂 So if you need some, let me know: i can mail it to you.
      Meat has been weird here: very much the same as what you described, and I’m hoping that levels out as well. I’m trying to stagger what we have here (we usually do a few meatless nights per week anyway), but with a potential meat shortage looming, I’m thinking it gets weirder before it gets better.

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