I walked out of my office on Wednesday evening to the smell of grilling meat wafting down the street, so naturally I got it into my head that I must have meat for dinner. Now, I cook nearly every night — it helps me wind down from the day and gives me a creative outlet, but, like most of you, I’m tired at the end of the day and at least during the week I’m always looking for ways to save time but still be adventurous and make a delicious meal.

I love pork. I love everything about pork and pretty much every cut of pork. I like to cook pork because I find it so versatile. But I am very careful about where I purchase my pork products. My favorite place is Prather Ranch in the Ferry Building, but I’m typically happy to buy Niman Ranch products as well.

You might think I’m rambling on a bit here, but I actually do have a point. I just needed to lay the groundwork. So back to Wednesday evening. I got it into my head that I would make a pork tenderloin. Too lazy to walk over to the ferry building, I headed to the store near my house (Farmer Joe’s) which stocks an array of Niman products. Unfortunately when I got to the store, they were clean out of loins. They did, however, have “Pork Top Round Roast,” a cut I frankly had never heard of. But, being the adventurous type, I figured I could look it up in one of my all time faves, The Meat Cookbook, and cook it accordingly. I also assumed that it was a lean cut that would probably take well to roasting, similar to a pork tenderloin.

Foiled again. There was no mention of this cut in my tome of meat. Again, too lazy to actually turn on the computer and look it up, I decided to just wing it and roast it like a loin. I rubbed it with a mixture of kosher salt, ground coriander, oregano, basil, thyme, and fennel seeds and let it sit at room temp for about 30 minutes, while I heated up my oven to about 425F, with my trusty cast-iron pan heating up along with the oven. I then seared the outside of the pork on all sides for about 10 minutes, reduced the heat to 300F, and proceeded to roast the pork until it was 145F inside. I then removed it from the oven, let it rest for about 5 minutes (loosely covered with aluminum foil), and then carved it. The pork seemed to be perfectly cooked, light pink, and juicy looking when I sliced it. The herb-crusted exterior was very flavorful, but the pork itself was only mediocre. Even though it appeared juicy, it was a dry and without the rub, somewhat flavorless.

Since I had purchased this mystery cut from Niman Ranch, I decided to visit their website and see if I could learn more about it. I had to dig through the site, but I finally did find the following information: “This small roast is from the inside thigh muscle. It is a great little roast for 2 to 3 people. You’ll want to cook it slowly so that it doesn’t dry out. Flavor it to your liking, but it goes well with rosemary, garlic, sliced apples or pears.”

It was then that I remembered that I had been given Bruce Aidell’s Complete Book of Pork for Christmas. This is what happens when you have far too many cookbooks scattered throughout the bookshelves in your house. Oh well, I think I’ll go back and get another top round roast and try again!

The Pork Saga 11 April,2005Kim Laidlaw


Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at http://www.kimlaidlaw.com.

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