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A Fail-Proof Trick for Roasting Lean Meats

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We’ve partnered with If You Care to highlight a one-step kitchen hack that produces tender, juicy oven-roasted meat (even the lean cuts!) every single time.

I consider myself a competent and seasoned cook, but still get intimidated by certain cuts of meat. Lean options, like beef or pork tenderloin, are particularly formidable since they have the potential to be a well-done waste of money or wind up like the dry, fibrous chops of my childhood.

Cuts like these are tricky because they both lack the moist-making marbling of fattier cuts while also being relatively compact and quick-cooking—a double hazard to overdone meat. Gravy and pan jus can only do so much to camouflage an overcooked cutlet, and seeing your dinner guests sawing through what was supposed to be a beautiful, succulent loin triggers some serious culinary trauma.

Wrap the pork loin in parchment paper to retain moisture and flavor while it roasts—and rests!
Wrap the pork loin in parchment paper to retain moisture and flavor while it roasts—and rests! Photo by Rocky Luten

A few weeks ago, I ended up with a lovely little pork loin on my hands (don’t ask, my job is weird) and decided to do some experimenting to see if I couldn’t banish the fear (and sawdust-meets-hairbrush texture) of overdone meat from my life. I rubbed the seasoned loin in a little olive oil before coating it with a light dusting of brown sugar, both for the flavor and its humectant properties of adding and retaining moisture. A sprinkling of some crushed pink peppercorns and sage rounded out the simple flavor profile, as well as elevated its attractiveness.

For the main reveal: I wrapped the entire loin in parchment paper, securing the ends with kitchen twine, before popping it into the oven for a short roast. About 20 minutes later, I took its internal temperature with a meat thermometer (right through the parchment), and pulled it out at a perfect 140°F. Letting it rest in the parchment is key; this allows the juices to reabsorb and evenly distribute throughout the loin. Then, all you have to do is unwrap, slice, and serve your lovely, succulent roast!

Roast Pork Loin with Pink Peppercorn, Brown Sugar, & Sage

Roast Pork Loin with Pink Peppercorn, Brown Sugar, & Sage

Judy Haubert Judy Haubert
Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 pounds center-cut pork loin, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
Go to Recipe

Do you have a favorite roasting method? Tell us in the comments below!

Bump up the flavor, minimize the mess. In partnership with If You Care, makers of kitchen and household products with a low environmental impact, we're excited to share recipes, tips, and tricks to help streamline your everyday cooking with delicious results.