Easter is one time of year when one of my favorite roasts appears at wholesale clubs: rack of pork, a.k.a., pork rib roast. These roasts inevitably turn into one of my favorite easy, fancy-pants meals: Herb-Roasted Rack of Pork. This is a very hands-off meal because the oven does the work for you. The roast gets cut into gorgeous individual servings consisting of brontosaurus-sized chops (I exaggerate…slightly). I can never polish off an entire chop myself, but I never have to worry: Phil is always there to “help me.”
As a side note, I turn into a vulture around holidays. By this I mean that I start watching meat specials at the supermarket and my favorite wholesale club, not only noticing what’s on sale, but also taking note of the sell-by dates on my favorite cuts of meat. I revisit the store a few days before said sell-by dates and I almost always score some really good meat at a truly fantastic price. It’s a great trick that I learned only very recently.
Back to that Herb-Roasted Rack of Pork. These roasts are usually sold vacuum-packed in brine, already Frenched. I always rinse the pork well before roasting it because the brine usually contains other stinky things like nitrates and phosphates. We want as little of that as possible in our roast. I score the meat so I can rub my herby-garlicky-mustardy mixture into the fat cap and the meat itself.
After that, the total roasting time rarely exceeds 1.5 hours. Another aside here: I used to hate pork because it was almost always overcooked and dry. That’s because the recommended cooking temperature used to be 160º F: the temperature at which pork adopts a sad, grey color and a consistency that approximates shoe leather. But a few years ago, the USDA relaxed these guidelines: it now recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145º F: the pork is still succulent—and yes, still a bit on the pink side. RELAX. It’s delicious.
When the meat has rested sufficiently, I cut the herb-roasted rack of pork into chops, using the bones as guides. I love to serve these chops with stuffing (I added cranberries to this recipe), although I’ve also gone with mashed potatoes or even a simple salad. A platter full of chops with stuffing arranged in the center is a truly impressive sight. Bon appétit!
- 1 ~3-lb. bone-in pork rib roast, Frenched*, excess fat removed (leaving a thin fat layer on top)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1½ tsp. coarse salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350º F.
- Carefully rinse the pork and pat dry with paper toweling. Score the fat (make shallow cuts in a criss-cross pattern). Mix the remaining ingredients and rub the mixture evenly over the meat, down into the score cuts, and in between the rib bones. Place roast (fat side up) on a rack set in a roasting pan (line the pan with aluminum foil first if you want an easier clean-up). Place the roasting pan in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300º F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer (inserted into the thickest part of the meat) reads 143º F (~45 additional minutes to an hour)**.
- Remove the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Slice into chops, using the rib bones as guides. Arrange on a platter and serve.
**Note that there may still be some pink in the pork roast. This is okay. As long as the roast reaches an internal temperature of 145º F (which it will when it rests), the USDA says that this is fine.