Pork loins refer to cuts of meat from above the pig's rib cage, along both sides of the backbone, and running from the shoulders to the hind legs. This is the tenderest part of the pig, and also the leanest.
When you buy pork loins from the butcher, you will probably need to specify the cut more specifically. "Pork loin" really refers to a wholesale cut; the retail pork loin cuts that a shopper will encounter include pork roasts, pork chops, back ribs, pork rack, pork tenderloin and pork steak, among others.
It's a matter of subjectivity, but in my opinion, the best tasting pork loin cut is a roast that is cut from the rib end of the pig. It tends to be more marbled than cuts from other locations, and usually juicier and more flavorful.
The main thing to guard against when cooking pork loins is overcooking them. Because they're relatively lean to begin with, overcooking can dry them out. On the other hand, pork of any kind should always be cooked thoroughly for safety's sake. There's a fine balance between too much and too little cooking when you're dealing with pork!
Fortunately, most of the pork loin recipes that you'll come across have taken this dilemma into consideration. Usually, if you follow the recipes closely as to cooking time, you will be fine.
Pork loins lend themselves to cooking in so many ways that I can't begin to cover them all in one article. If you've never cooked pork loin before, here's a basic recipe to get your started on discovering one of the world's great meat cuts. This is for cooking a pork loin roast, which does require a fairly long cooking time-2 hours.
Aside from the time required, it's an easy recipe. Don't let its simplicity fool you; follow the directions carefully and your taste buds will be well pleased.
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper (or more or less, according to taste)
2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup cabernet sauvignon or other red wine
1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
2. Mince garlic into a small bowl. Add rosemary, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly with a fork or a miniature whisk.
3. Use a fork or knife to pierce the pork loin roast in a number of places. Rub the garlic mixture over the meat , being sure to press some of the mixture into the piercings. Brush olive oil over the meat.
4. Place pork loin roast onto a baking dish. Cook for 2 hours, turning at least once during that time. Baste frequently with pan drippings. With about 10 minutes of cooking time left, pour half of the wine over the meat.
5. After the meat is cooked, remove it onto a serving platter.
6. Pour the remaining wine into the baking pan and stir it in with the pan drippings, then pour this liquid over the meat.
Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium . Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah's article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: http://www.solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html