Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Casseroles»French»Pork»French Style Pot Roasted Pork Loin with Marsala and Mushrooms Recipe

Pot roast almost always start with a fatty, flavorful cut that turns tender and juicy after hours of cooking. Is it possible to produce the same results from today's lean, bland pork loin?

The Problem

Since American pork is far less fatty than French, past attempts at this dish always produced bland and stringy meat sitting in a flavorless pool of juice.

The Goal

We wanted to eke out juicy, tender, savory results from this bland roast.

The Solution

We found that the lower the oven temperature, the more succulent the roast. In a low oven, the outer layers of the loin absorbed less heat (and consequently squeezed out less moisture) during the time it took the center to climb to 140 degrees. Not only did this give us a juicier roast, it also produced a small pool of concentrated jus that we could use for a sauce. There was just one texture-related setback: The bottom of the roast, which was in direct contact with the pot, cooked more quickly than the top. We easily solved this problem by searing just the top and sides of the roast before it went into the oven.

To improve our roast’s flavor, we used a technique called “double-butterflying.” By making two sweeping cuts-the first one-third of the way up the loin and the second into the thicker portion we had created with the first cut-we opened up the roast and exposed a vast amount of surface area. This method allowed us to add fat and flavor directly to the meat, which we did using a seasoned butter. We then folded the loin back up and secured it with twine.

The only thing left to do was to improve the flavorful-but-thin jus. A little powdered gelatin added viscosity, and some white wine, onions, and butter punched up the flavor. But it was our final inspiration-a diced apple cooked along with the onions-that really brought the sauce together. A variation of port and figs was equally satisfying.