Quantcast

Baked Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes

Pork loin and sweet potatoes, both of which come into season in autumn, are a classic pairing in the South, and they are naturals together. When a leg or loin was roasted before the fire, sweet potatoes were often laid in a pan underneath it, where they naturally basted in the juices that fell from the roast. They were also frequently baked together, as this recipe does them, in a Dutch oven. You can use any cut of pork: The shoulder (Boston butt), or even a fresh leg, but the loin is especially nice and possibly the best cut to choose.

Our modern obsession with fat has led to the breeding of leaner pigs, and most butchers compound the felony by trimming off the skin and most of the fat; this adds to the danger of drying out the meat by overcooking. Be sure that the meat you buy has not been trimmed too much, but has a healthy layer of fat all round to keep it moist. You can usually get rid of the excess fat at the end.–Damon Lee Fowler

Baked Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 3 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • For the pork loin
  • 1 pork loin roast, weighing 4 to 5 pounds, preferably not boneless
  • 6 to 8 crumbled, dried sage leaves
  • Salt and whole black pepper, in a peppermill
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes (or use quartered winter squash for a nice change)
  • 1/4 cup medium-dry (Sercial) Madeira (optional)
  • For the pan gravy
  • Roasting pan juices, degreased
  • 1 1/4 cups water, meat broth, homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fat, skimmed from the roast drippings
  • 2 teaspoons flour, or 4 teaspoons Southern Browning (see Note)
  • Salt and whole black pepper, in a peppermill
  • 1/4 cup medium-dry (Sercial) Madeira (optional)

Directions

  • Make the pork loin
  • 1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 450°F (230°C). Trim some of the excess fat from the pork loin but leave a thin layer to keep the meat moist. Rub it with sage, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Choose a covered roaster that will hold the pork and sweet potatoes at once. Fit it with a metal rack or trivet that will leave room for the sweet potatoes around it. Rub the rack or trivet with olive oil and put the pork loin on it, fat side up. Drizzle it with a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
  • 2. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, baste again with olive oil, and add a cup of water to the pan. Bake for about 1 hour, basting occasionally with the pan juices.
  • 3. Meanwhile, scrub the sweet potatoes under cold, running water and dry thoroughly. After the first hour of baking, place the potatoes around the pork and baste well with pan juices. Bake until the potatoes and pork are cooked through and tender, basting frequently, about 1 1/2 hours more. The meat juices should run clear and the potatoes should yield easily when gently squeezed.
  • 4. Take up the pork and potatoes onto a warm platter and put the roasting pan on top of the stove. Skim off the excess fat and make gravy as directed for Pan Gravy, using the fat and roasting juices. If you are using Madeira, add it to the gravy and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings and pour into a heated sauceboat.
  • Make the gravy
  • 5. Have the pan juices in a large fat separator or measuring cup with a good pouring spout. Put the roasting pan over direct medium heat. Add the water or broth and, stirring and scraping to loosen any of the browned residue, bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute. Take it off the heat and add the contents of the pan to the roasting juices, making sure that none of the browned bits from the pan are lost.
  • 6. Place a separate pan, preferably a well-seasoned iron skillet (a saucepan will work, though), over the heat and add the fat. When it is hot, rub the flour or Browning into it with a wooden spoon until it is well blended. If using plain flour, cook until it is beginning to color.
  • 7. Gradually stir in the liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened and beginning to bubble. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer, taste and season with the salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 minutes. For game, pork, or poultry, just before taking the gravy up, you may, if you like, add the optional Madeira and let it simmer 2 minutes longer. Pour into a heated sauce boat and serve at once.

Southern Browning Note:

  • Southern Browning is nothing more than flour toasted over low heat in a dry pan until it is colored. Old cooks made this in quantity and put it away in corked bottles so that the flour did not have to be browned at the last minute. Simply put the quantity of flour you want to brown in a well-seasoned iron, enameled iron or non-stick skillet. Turn on the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until it is a rich medium brown, about 5 to 10 minutes, and turn off the heat.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these: