Christina Dodd’s Famous “Get Your Fork Out of the Back of my Hand, I Want the End Slice” Pork Rack
Hm. Well, my recipe for pork rack has never produced leftovers, but that’s because I make it when the family is visiting and they fall upon it with such gusto that there’s usually a fight about the last end piece. But perhaps your family isn’t quite so…um…enthusiastic about food.
— Pork rack (I buy mine at Costco — they’re not always available, so when they are, we stock up.) This method works great on pork loin, but I tell you, pork rack (loin with the bones in) brings the folks to the table. There’s something primal about being able to chew meat straight off the bone. The size depends on how many people you’re serving, but I usually do one to two ribs per person – if there happen to ever be leftovers, be not afraid. Cold pork is darn tasty and you can always reheat it a bit for the next meal.
— S&P (I use flake or kosher salt and fresh ground pepper)
— Fresh garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
— Sprigs of fresh rosemary or fresh thyme
— Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Then, rub salt and pepper all over the pork rack. Press it into the fat, and do NOT cut off the fat. I get it; you’re trying to eat healthy. But you can trim it after cooking. It keeps the pork super-moist during cooking. Slide the thin slices of garlic under the fat.
Throw a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a sauté pan, heat it until shimmering and put the pork rack into the pan to brown. You want to brown all sides so you’ll have to stand there and hold it on its end with tongs at one point. Christina’s sneaky hint: you can use this moment to say that you’re busy and you need your family to empty the dishwasher or make a salad.
Once you’ve browned the tasty critter, put it onto a roasting pan on top of more sliced garlic and the herb sprigs (rosemary is my favorite, but thyme or sage is fabulous, too.) Roast at 400 degrees, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Lower oven to 350 degrees and roast for an hour or more, depending on the size of your rack. (No, not that rack, the pork rack. Figure 20 minutes a pound, or until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees.)
While the pork rack is roasting, let’s talk about meat thermometers. Meat thermometers aren’t expensive, and any kind will take the internal temperature. I have the Thermopen Instant Read Meat Thermometer, and this thing costs ninety bucks. Which is an absurd price, but if you cook a lot (and I do) it’s worth it. Don’t take my word for it, look on Amazon — 700 reviews/5 stars. I asked for mine for Christmas, and have been thrilled with it. Other than really great jewelry, how many Christmas gifts can you claim that about?
Okay, back to the pork rack. When the temp (or the timing) is right, take it out, put it on a cutting board and tightly wrap in foil to rest for 20 minutes. Important step! Don’t skip it!
Now, slice that baby up and serve it to your family. Note the tears of joy in their eyes.
Pork rack can be served with any number of sides. I usually have roasted red potatoes with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary. I’ve also had greens beans with bacon (it’s a pork theme!), roasted brussel sprouts, steamed broccoli. For condiments, we serve dijon mustard or deli mustard, pesto, horseradish… Whatever floats your pork rack.
Wine pairing: I’m a fan of chilled white wine with pork. I tend toward citrusy flavors with this dish, so usually a Pinot Grigio or a Viognier. My husband is a red wine fanatic, so he goes with a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon to avoid overwhelming the pork flavor.