This roast pork loin with apples and onions boasts a rustic loveliness from a garlic, thyme, and fennel seed rub and a caramelized sweetness from the side that’s roasted at the same time. And it’s about to become your new favorite one-pan dinner.
Roast Pork Loin with Apples and Onions
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 20 M
- Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter while the oven heats.
Cut each onion into quarters. Cut each apple in half from top to bottom. Using a teaspoon-size measuring spoon, a melon baller, or a paring knife, trim the apple core and stem. Place each apple half, cut side down, on the cutting board and cut it in half again.
Place the onions and apples on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle the onions and apples with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (about 12 turns if you’re using freshly cracked pepper from a pepper mill). Toss everything together with your hands and spread in a single layer.
Mince the garlic and toss it in a small bowl along with the thyme, fennel seeds, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Pat the pork dry. Place it, fat side up, in the middle of the baking sheet, pushing the apples and onions aside. Rub the entire pork loin with the garlic mixture.
Roast everything until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork loin reads 145°F (63°C), 45 to 60 minutes. (You’ll probably want to start checking the pork loin after 30 minutes, just to be safe.)
Transfer the roast pork loin to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve it along with the roasted apples and onions. Originally published September 10, 2014.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. I don't particularly like roast pork loin because I find it too tough and dry for my taste. But alas, The One had his mind set on this, so I, being the beneficent being that I am, gave him my blessing.
Annie, my assistant, was kind enough to pick up a bone-in pork loin that had a nice cap of fat on it.
"But it's not boneless," whined The One.
"It'll be tender at the bone. Haven't you read Ruth Reichl's memoir?"
He prepared the roast per the recipe, using Pink Lady apples. The house filled with an amazing aroma from the fennel seeds—most of which we didn't crush. I pulled the roast from the oven when it registered 143° and let it rest for five minutes before carving.
Bottom line: It was impressive. Damn impressive. A few things I'll do differently next time:
1. I'd dispense with tying the roast. (No, this isn't mentioned in the recipe, but ours came tied in several places. Removing the strings after roasting knocked off too much of that wonderful fennel crust that we loved.)
2. I'd yank the roast from the oven at 138°F. The temperature of the roast rose too high for us while it was resting, seeing as we don't mind some pink in the middle. in fact, that's our goal.
3. I'd serve this with a big-ass bowl of buttery mashed potatoes because the roast was screaming for it. (Oh, wait. Maybe that was me....)
4. I would again rely on a bone-in roast. It was so much more tender than I expected.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Honestly, when I first read this roast pork loin recipe, I thought it was going to be too simple and nothing very special. Boy, was I wrong! The pork was perfectly cooked—but more than that, it was exceptionally flavorful.
I loved the rub made of oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, thyme, and fennel seeds. The texture was lovely, and with each bite of the crusted pork, we tasted a bit of each of those flavors. The onions and Rome apples were perfectly caramelized from the high heat and were exceptionally tender and tasty from being roasted in the pork juices.
In terms of the recipe itself, it was very detailed, so it would be a great recipe for everyone from new cooks to established cooks. I cooked the pork dish for exactly 60 minutes, and it was perfectly cooked and tender as can be. A wonderful early fall recipe!
This is a great way to prepare a pork roast—it's an extremely simple preparation and you'll have a complete meal on the table in under 90 minutes, with most of the time spent doing other things while the pork is in the oven. I put a couple of potatoes in the pan along with the pork to round out the meal. All of the aromatics and seasonings work perfectly together, and the final result gives the impression of a much more involved preparation. (This is always a good way to impress your guests.) The onions and apples complement the pork perfectly and impart classic fall flavors to the dish. The pork was moist and tender.
To prepare the pork, the shiny silver skin, if present, should be removed. This will make the meat much more tender.) I think this recipe would also work well with pork tenderloin, although the roasting time may vary. The garlic, thyme, and fennel were a perfect combination, although I could also see an opportunity to change up the spices the next time. For example, chopped fresh rosemary would be a perfect substitute for the thyme.
I love using a melon baller to remove the core of an apple or pear. You can also use it to take out the blossom and stem ends of the apple. I lined my sheet pan with parchment, but the sugar from the apples and the oil spread quite a bit, so the next time I'll line my pan with foil to make clean-up a bit easier.