Pork roast and I have not always had the best of relationships.  Pork chops, too, for that matter.  My mom grew up in an age when you needed to all but incinerate the poor beast to ensure that you don’t kill your family with trichinosis.  The result was a childhood of bone-dry roasts that could double as dental floss. 

But, farming methods have improved and, what’s even better, it’s becoming easier to find small farmers who are rearing older breeds that give more flavorsome meat.  The result is that you can cook your pork to a nice, juicy 160 F and serve a roast that you’ll actually enjoy rather than a tough piece of something that’s just this side of pork jerky.

So, after a life of trying to avoid eating pork roast – forget about cooking it – over the last few years, I’ve given it another chance … if for no other reason than to have a vacation from chicken.  And, as much as apples and pork go together, I’ve found that you need to get the balance just right to make sure that it’s not too sweet.  A few onions, some garlic and sage make all the difference, letting the apples cut the richness of the pork while the rest adds the savouriness to keep it from tasting like a dessert.

Apple and Sage Pork Roast

  • Pork loin roast (around 2 lbs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, halved
  • 3 tart red apples such as Pink Lady or MacIntosh, cored and quartered
  • 7 or 8 sage leaves, sliced
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup hard cider (I’m a Bulmers gal, myself)
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  If your pork roast still has the skin on it, put the roast in a colandar and pour a kettle-full of boiling water over it.  Afterwards, dry it and rub with a good drizzle of olive oil and around a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Place in a deep roasting pan or casserole dish with the quartered onions which have been drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Cook in the hot oven for 20 minutes.  After that time, add the apples, garlic and sage to the pan and drop the temperature to 400 F, cooking for another 15 minutes before adding the stock and cider.  Cook for at least another 30 minutes or until the temperature of the roast reaches 160 F.  If you want a nice crisp crackling, you have two options:  1) rather than cooking for 30 mintes at 400, raise the temperature back up to 450 and cook for 20 minutes or 2) cook for 30 at 400, then remove the skin when the roast is cooked and pop it on a bit of foil and crank the oven back up to 450 and cook until crisp, about 15 minutes.

If your roast does NOT have a skin, then simply drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper and cook as described, ignoring the bit at the end about crackling.

Remove the roast from the pan, tent with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes while you make the gravy.  Strain the liquid from the pan into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the pan liquids with the corn flour, stirring to form a smooth paste before pouring back into the saucepan.  Simmer and stir until thick.  Absolutely delicious with roasted potatoes and green beans or cabbage.

pork roast and hard cider ... a match made in culinary heaven