- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 18 fresh bay leaves (1/3 ounce)
- 10 thyme sprigs
- 10 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 3 quarts cold water
- One 4-pound boneless pork loin, tied
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- MAKE THE BRINE In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, garlic and salt with 1 quart of the water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the brine into a large bowl and let cool. Add the remaining 2 quarts of cold water along with the pork and refrigerate overnight (12 to 18 hours). Drain and pat dry, picking off any seasonings.
- MAKE THE RUB In a mini food processor or a mortar, combine the fennel seeds, red pepper, garlic, lemon zest and salt and process or pound to a paste. Stir in the olive oil. Rub half of the spice paste on the lean side of the pork and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and set a rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. On a large griddle, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the pork fat side down and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pork to the rack, fat side up, and slather with the remaining garlic paste. Roast the pork for about 1 hour, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140° to 145°. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
This aromatic roast is great with an equally aromatic Pinot Noir from Oregon, where cool nights concentrate the scents and flavors in the grapes.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.