"Imagine if you will, a juicy succulent pork loin roast, surrounded by deliciously roasted apple chunks, onions, and fingerling potatoes, and it's all done in one pan! Yes. Flavored with fresh rosemary and coarse ground mustard, this is a great easy weeknight recipe, that is also perfect for company."
The making of Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Onions (and potatoes
"What would you like to have for dinner?" is a common question in our household. Sometimes the answer is fairly specific, I want Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, or your Salmon with Jalapeno Cream Sauce, and sometimes it's more ambiguous - like something roasted in the oven.
"OK. Roasted in the oven? What could I possibly make that's roasted in the oven?"
"A pork roast" comes the helpful reply.
I cook a lot with pork tenderloin, pork butt, pork shoulder. Not so much with pork loin roasts. I find they have a tendency to come out too dry. There is just not enough fat in the roast to be succulent. But always up for the challenge, I go to my cookbooks, and the internet, to see what I can see. And then I came up with this very simple recipe for Pork Loin Roasted with Apples, Onions, and Potatoes. Everything you need in one pan. How easy is that?
Pork Loin vs Pork Tenderloin
Pork loin roast and pork tenderloin roasts come from two different places on the animal. While both are lean, they are not interchangeable as a pork loin roast lends itself well to a longer, slower cooking process than does a pork tenderloin which works best with quick cooking or grilling.
The most noticeable difference is in the size and shape, pork loin roasts being wider and thicker, while the tenderloin is long and thin. Another difference is that a pork loin roast generally has a cap of fat on the top. That said, when I went to my local market to get my pork loin, all of them had been trimmed of all fat.
I mean all fat.
Come on everyone - fast food is bad for you - but a layer of fat on your roast helps keep it moist and bastes it as it cooks - so we need to stop insisting that all our meat be fat-free. OK?
Anyway, I had the butcher go into the back and find me a roast that had NOT been trimmed, and cut me a nice center cut with a great layer of fat on the top.
I just seasoned the meat with salt and pepper then browned it well in a large oven-proof skillet. Once browned I went on to season it with mustard and minced fresh rosemary.
The Fruits and Veggies
Who doesn't like apples with pork?
Who doesn't like onions with apples?
Who doesn't like potatoes with onions?
Who doesn't like simple, one pan cooking?
I thought so.
The Apples - For the apple part of the program, I chose sweet/tart apples, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith. Honeycrisp for their sweetness, and Granny Smith for tartness. Both hold up to baking, keeping both their flavor and form-and they naturally enhance each other with the ying/yang of sweet/tart. Simply wash them, then core, cut in half, quarters, then eights.
Nice bite-size pieces.
Since apples do oxidize (turn brown) when exposed to air for any length of time, do your apples about the time you are ready to toss them with the oil and rosemary.
The Onion - I used a red onion, cut into eights. Peel, halve, quarter, eights. Same as apples. Should be about the same size as well.
The Potaotes - I used fingerling potatoes I simply cut into halves - they had a nice look to them, and came in various colors. Food should look as pretty as it tastes. You could use larger potatoes, a waxy variety is best, red potato or Yukon golds would work. Simply cut them into the same size as the apples and onion.
Russet would not be so good as they are too starchy and would not hold up as well as the waxier varieties.
Throw the apples, onion, and potatoes into a large bowl, add the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and toss until everything is evenly coated. If you truly want to make this a "one-pot" dish, wait until you have browned your roast, then just put everything into the pan, off heat, and toss it carefully with tongs.
I did not use all of my mustard/rosemary mixture on my roast, so the few teaspoons I had left I added to the veggies.
The finish is the easiest part. Make an opening in the center of the skillet, insert roast, surround with the veggie/apples, and put in a 375ºF oven for about an hour. The meat should be around 145ºF when checked with a meat thermometer - do not overcook the meat. Tent it lightly for about 10 minutes then slice and serve with any accumulated pan juices.
And there you are. A succulent tender juicy pork loin roast with all the fixings. Ready in one pan in just about an hour. Great low-fat dinner for any night, but good enough for company.
Left-over roast from this recipe is perfect to make Easy Cuban Sandwiches!
Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Onions
- 1 3 - 4 pound pork loin roast (get one with a fat cap on it)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - divided
- 2 tablespoons or to taste minced fresh rosemary leaves - divided
- ¼ cup whole grain mustard
- 2 large tart sweet apples cored and cut into eights (I used a Honeycrisp and a Granny Smith)
- 1 large red onion peeled and cut into eights
- 12 or so fingerling potatoes cut in half across the middle, not lengthwise
- Salt and pepper the roast generously. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, when hot add half the olive oil and the roast, fat side down, brown well on all sides then remove from the skillet.
- While the roast browns, combine the apples, onion, and potatoes in a large bowl, add half the rosemary and the remaining tablespoon olive oil along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until everything is well coated. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining rosemary with the mustard. After the roast has browned, spread a thick layer of the mustard mixture on the top (the fat side) and sides of the roast. Mix any leftover mustard mixture into the vegetables.
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
- Place the vegetable mixture into the skillet, leaving the center open for the roast, nestle the roast in the center, then place in the hot oven and cook for about 1 hour or until the veggies are all soft and the roast is cooked to about 145°F.
- Allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes, cut into thin slices and serve with the vegetable mixture. Spoon any accumulated juices over.