The incredible vanishing pork loin

May 1, 2012

Pork loin, baked beans, potato casserole. Photo does NOT do it justice.

In my brief experience with cooking sous vide, I’ve had some pretty good meals (and a learning experience or two). But I’d never cooked anything that was so damn good the leftovers vanished.

That was before pork loin.

Let me tell you what. If that little sous vide circulator had done any better, I fully expect the entire refrigerator would have vanished due to its proximity to the leftover pork loin.

I had had a pork loin reposing in the freezer for, oh, two or three months. It was a half loin, or about 4-5 pounds. I try to keep one on hand, because they’re a great thing when you know you’re going to have a herd for dinner, but it had been a while since I’d had a herd for dinner, and I figured it was about time it got recycled out of the freezer. So, I put it down to thaw in the fridge midweek, and invited the kids over for dinner on a Saturday night.

I had run across Cajun Butter, an injectable marinade for frying turkeys, and that struck me as something that would be good with pork loin. So I plunked said loin in a FoodSaver bag, double-sealed it (learned THAT lesson!) and plunked it into the water bath the evening before.

A word to the wise. If you are going to use a vacuum sealer to seal a meat in a bag with a liquid, don’t use much liquid. The vacuum process will suck some of it out into the little drippy tray in your FoodSaver, and you will have a mess to clean up. Not that I know this from experience or anything. A cup of liquid for a 4 1/2 pound roast is too much. Not that I know that from experience or anything, either.

Anyway, Mr. Porky Loin spent 24 hours braising away in his bag in the water bath at 155 degrees, and came out looking quite succulent. But not as succulent as he looked a few minutes later, after he’d been coated in a nice glaze of sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce and seared in a hot oven to give him a nice crust.

Dear. Sweet. Baby. Jesus. That stuff was sublime. Great texture. Great flavor. Cut it with a fork, but it wasn’t mushy. The Creole butter kept it moist, but I didn’t taste Creole flavors; the barbecue sauce, OTOH, seared into a scrumptious crispy outside that just set off the perfectly tender — and slightly pink — interior. Have mercy!

NS, in fact, proffered, “Please don’t cook this any other way than this.”

Four of us demolished perhaps 2/3 of the 4 1/2 pound loin. I had about half a dozen slices I stuck in a plastic bag and stowed in the fridge.

From which they vanished.

One day the next week, I was trying to figure out midafternoon what I could cook rather quickly that night, as it had been a long, busy day and I was a tired somebody. And I lit on the idea of pork loin. Which was an absolutely stunning idea until I got home and discovered the leftover pork loin was No Longer There, and, furthermore, NS, Child C and Future Son-In-Law 2 disavowed any knowledge of its departure. And we went out and got burgers.

I can only surmise that either (a) one or all of the above ate it and forgot it, (b) one or all the above ate it and didn’t want to tell me, (c) Lucy has learned to open the fridge, and God help us all if that’s the case, (d) I was sleep-eating, never-you-mind I’ve never taken Ambien, or (e) the stuff was so good that the Spirits of the Refrigerator contributed it to their monthly potluck, something that has never previously occurred even though I have cooked, to my mind, some things that were on a par with this. I dunno, maybe the local SotR potlucks hadn’t coincided with my significant culinary successes before.

In any event, I would highly recommend you and y’mama ‘n ’em getting you a sous vide circulator on the strength of this dish alone. And if you were catering a big party, you could use pork tenderloin, cook them like this, freeze or refrigerate them in their same vacuum sealed bag, and then heat them all back up, put a crust on them in the oven or on the grill, and then slice little medallions and put them on rolls, and people would think you’re all that and a bag of chips.

I believe that will be on the menu of my next event.

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