Are you looking to cook a small pork loin but not sure where to start?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Pork loin is a delicious and versatile cut of meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this article will provide you with easy-to-follow instructions on how to cook a small pork loin to perfection.
From seasoning to cooking times, we’ll cover everything you need to know to create a mouth-watering meal that will impress your family and friends.
So, let’s get started!
How To Cook A Small Pork Loin?
Step 1: Seasoning
The first step in cooking a small pork loin is to season it properly. You can use a simple combination of salt and pepper, or add some chopped fresh herbs for extra flavor.
To season the pork, pat it dry with paper towels and then sprinkle salt and pepper (or herbs) all over it. Rub the seasoning into the meat to ensure it’s evenly coated.
Step 2: Searing
Next, heat some oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pork loin and brown it evenly on all sides. This should take about 3-5 minutes per side.
Step 3: Baking
Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place the seared pork loin on the baking sheet and bake it in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of 145°F.
Step 4: Resting
Once the pork loin is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.
Choosing The Right Pork Loin
When it comes to choosing the right pork loin for your recipe, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Firstly, consider the size of your pork loin. A small pork loin typically weighs between 2-4 pounds and is perfect for feeding a small family or group. If you need more servings, you can always opt for a larger pork loin.
Secondly, decide whether you want a bone-in or boneless pork loin. Bone-in pork loins tend to be juicier and more flavorful, but they require more time and effort to carve around the bone. On the other hand, boneless pork loins are easier to handle and cook faster, but they may not be as tender or flavorful.
Lastly, consider the quality of the pork loin. Look for pork that is pinkish-red in color with a small amount of marbling. Avoid any pork that looks pale or grayish in color, as this could indicate that it’s been sitting on the shelf for too long.
By following these tips, you can ensure that you choose the right pork loin for your recipe and end up with a delicious and satisfying meal.
Preparing The Pork Loin For Cooking
Before you start cooking your small pork loin, there are a few important steps to take to ensure the best results.
Step 1: Trimming
First, you’ll want to trim any excess fat or silver skin from the pork loin. This will not only make it look more appealing, but it will also prevent the meat from becoming tough and chewy during cooking.
To trim the pork loin, use a sharp knife to carefully remove any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. Be careful not to remove too much of the meat itself, as this can result in a smaller portion size.
Step 2: Seasoning
As mentioned above, seasoning is an important step in preparing any cut of meat. The seasoning will not only add flavor but will also help to tenderize the meat.
To season your small pork loin, you can use a simple combination of salt and pepper or add some chopped fresh herbs for extra flavor. Pat the pork loin dry with paper towels and then sprinkle salt and pepper (or herbs) all over it. Rub the seasoning into the meat to ensure it’s evenly coated.
Step 3: Tying
Tying the pork loin is an optional step, but it can help to keep the meat in a uniform shape during cooking. This is especially important if you plan to sear the pork loin before baking it.
To tie the pork loin, use kitchen twine to wrap it tightly around the meat at even intervals. This will help to prevent any uneven cooking or bulging during baking.
Step 4: Searing
Searing the pork loin before baking it can help to create a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat. To sear the pork loin, heat some oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pork loin and brown it evenly on all sides. This should take about 3-5 minutes per side.
Now that you have prepared your small pork loin for cooking, you can follow one of the methods outlined above for baking it in the oven or slow cooker. Remember to always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and let the pork loin rest before slicing and serving.
Seasoning And Flavoring Options
If you want to take your pork loin to the next level, there are many seasoning and flavoring options to choose from. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Smoky Paprika Rub – Mix smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub the pork with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork and roast it in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
2. Herb and Garlic Rub – Combine garlic powder, dried oregano, thyme, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the mixture onto the pork loin and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
3. Sweet and Spicy Rub – Mix chili powder, brown sugar or coconut sugar, dried oregano, paprika, garlic powder, fine sea salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture onto the pork loin and bake it in the oven until it’s fully cooked.
4. Mustard and Herb Rub – Combine ground mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and a touch of brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Rub the mixture onto the pork loin before searing it on the stovetop and finishing it in the oven.
5. Simple Salt and Pepper – For a classic seasoning option, simply season the pork loin with salt and pepper before cooking it to perfection in the oven.
Remember to adjust these seasoning options based on your personal preferences and taste preferences. With these seasoning options, you can create a delicious pork loin that’s bursting with flavor!
Oven Roasting Method
If you prefer to oven roast your small pork loin, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, preheat your oven to 350°F.
If your pork loin is boneless, place it in a roasting pan with the fat side up. If it has bones, place it on a wire rack in the pan with the bones facing down.
Roast the pork loin for 25 minutes per pound, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 145°F. If you have a smaller roast, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Once the pork loin is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 3 minutes before slicing. For even juicier meat, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Remember that the internal temperature will continue to rise as the meat rests, so use a thermometer to ensure it reaches the desired level of doneness.
If you want to add some extra flavor to your roasted pork loin, you can rub it with a mixture of herbs and spices before cooking. Some popular options include rosemary, thyme, garlic, and paprika. You can also baste the meat with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice during cooking to keep it moist and tender.
Grilling a small pork loin is another delicious way to cook this cut of meat. There are a few different grilling methods you can use, but we’ll cover one of the most popular techniques known as “zone cooking.”
Step 1: Preparing the Grill
To begin, preheat your grill to medium-high heat (around 450°F to 500°F). If you’re using a gas grill, turn one burner to high and leave the others off. If you’re using a charcoal grill, arrange the coals on one side of the grill and leave the other side empty.
Step 2: Seasoning
While the grill is heating up, prepare your pork loin by trimming any excess fat or silver skin. You can also opt to brine the pork loin for extra flavor and tenderness. To brine, dissolve 4 tablespoons of salt (and 2-4 tablespoons of sugar if desired) in 4 cups of water in a food-storage plastic bag. Refrigerate the pork loin in the brine for 1-2 hours, then rinse it under running water and pat it dry.
Once your pork loin is ready, season it with salt and black pepper (or other seasonings) on all sides. If you brined the pork loin, skip the salt.
Step 3: Grilling
Place the pork loin on the hot side of the grill and sear it for about 5 minutes per side until it develops a nice crust. Then, move it to the cooler side of the grill (or turn off one burner if using a gas grill) and continue cooking it over indirect heat.
Rotate the pork loin every 5 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. This should take about 25 minutes, but be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness rather than relying on time alone.
Step 4: Resting
Once your pork loin has reached its desired temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to settle and redistribute throughout the meat.
Grilled pork loin pairs well with a variety of sides such as mashed potatoes or a crunchy slaw. Experiment with different seasonings and marinades to find your favorite flavor combinations!
If you prefer a crispy exterior on your pork loin, the pan-seared method is a great option. This method involves searing the pork loin in a hot pan before finishing it off in the oven.
To start, preheat your oven to 375°F. Then, trim any excess fat or silver skin from the pork loin and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the pork loin with salt and pepper on all sides.
Next, heat a tablespoon of oil in an oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pork loin to the pan and sear it for 2-3 minutes on each side until it’s browned all over.
Once the pork loin is seared, transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 145°F.
Once cooked, remove the pork loin from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.