This roasted pork loin is an easy and fancy holiday dinner option. Rub the pork with salt, pepper, brown sugar, and fresh thyme, then roast until golden brown. While the pork roasts, add some sweet cipollini onions and salty pancetta to the pan, then use the tasty drippings to make a creamy pan sauce of Calvados, apple cider, chicken stock, and a touch of cream for richness. Serve with a poached pear salad and plenty of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
What to buy: Cipollini are small, flat red or yellow onions, commonly seen in markets from late fall through winter.
- 1Combine the salt, sugar, thyme, and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
- 2Pat the pork dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet or large dish. Using your hands, rub it all over with the oil, sprinkle with all of the thyme mixture, and rub until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- 1Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, remove the pork from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature while the oven heats.
- 2Place the pork fat-side up in the middle of a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the onions and place them in a large bowl. Cut the pancetta into large dice and add it to the bowl. Add the sugar and thyme, season with pepper, and toss with your hands to combine; set aside.
- 3Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, scatter the onion-pancetta mixture around the pork in an even layer, and roast for 20 minutes. Stir the onion-pancetta mixture and continue to roast until the onions are knife tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145°F, about 10 to 20 minutes more. (Pork loins will vary in size and thickness. If you have a thinner loin, check the temperature sooner. If your pork loin is ready before your onions, just remove it to a large plate to rest and continue cooking the onions until they’re done.)
- 4Transfer the pork to a large plate and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion-pancetta mixture to a serving dish, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside while you make the sauce.
For the sauce:
- 1Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan; set aside.
- 2Drain all but 3 tablespoons of drippings from the roasting pan. If you don’t have enough drippings, add butter as needed. Place the pan across two burners over medium heat until the butter is melted, if using. Sprinkle in the flour and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the raw taste of the flour is cooked out, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- 3Increase the heat to medium high. Whisk in the cider or juice and Calvados and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Whisk in the broth or stock and measured salt and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 2 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Discard the contents of the strainer.
- 4Place the saucepan over medium heat, whisk in the cream and any accumulated juices on the plate from the rested pork, and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- 5Cut the pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with the onion-pancetta mixture and sauce.