Introduction: Garlic Roasted Pork Loin With Crispy Potatoes & Cracklin'

About: Summer 2012, I moved out of NYC with one goal: find a way to get paid to hike. Since then I’ve been developing my nature inspired ink work, working on my master naturalist certification, and huffing it up and…

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Looking to eat affordably, maybe even feed a family, but still demand that your food has a face? Buying a roast is a great, old fashioned way to go and can offer some terrific savings over individual cuts of meat, all the while reducing packaging waste. Unfortunately our modern culture of belly bursting fast food and basil lemongrass quinoa smoothies has led many astray to the traditional virtues of bulk, roasted meat.

Well then world weary connoisseurs of carne, venture forth and let me show you the joys of a classically styled Sunday Roast with a trick or two up it's sleeve...

Step 1: Marinate That Meat

Okay, meat is delicious, bursting full of complex, layered flavors subtly affected by the manner in which it was fed & raised, the care in processing, and a thousand nuances in its preparation.

En Sous Vide proponents and Foodies alike may argue that the only allowable flavorings are water, salt, and air. If you call yourself a Foodie, this tutorial is not for you. Eating food is a basic pleasure and requirement of life sustained by every heterotrophic organism in this world. You don't meet people calling themselves Airies or Sexies do you?

That said, there are ultimately only but so many types of meat you can legally eat in the good ole US of A. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, ostrich maybe, stuff that floats/sinks/swims, and stuff that only Bear Gryllis and Fear Factor contestants eat. How do you keep from getting bored and eying up Fido and Mittens curiously?

Marination, that's right foodies. We add ingredients to food, deal with it.

My marinade for a 4lb pork loin:
  • 2oz Chinese Black Vinegar: Do you like Balsamic Vinegar? Do you like Worcestershire Sauce? Then you need this in your pantry. It tastes like a 1:2 mix of each, is cheaper than either, and is made from rice and sorghum. Its great on sauteed mushrooms with cracked black pepper.
  • 1oz Hoisin Sauce: One thing every asian cuisine ever has taught me is that pork loves sweet and savory, this sauce is both.
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary: If you are roasting meat and not using Rosemary, you don't deserve your stomach.
  • 2/3 tsp Salt: Ditto
  • 1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper: Probably ditto
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme: Alsoditto

Blend to taste, tweak to your personal preferences, and rinse and marinate your loin overnight.

Disclaimer: no consumers were harmed in the making of this Instructable by paying extra for a rock salt grinder.

Step 2: Poach Them Potatoes

Do you like Potatoes? I like Potatoes. You know who also likes Potatoes? Meat and gravy love potatoes.

Whether you're trying to dine on a budget, feed a family of four, or simply partake of the same staples that people have been getting by on for generations, potatoes have a place in every kitchen. Granted, there is considerable research suggesting the massive spike in blood glucose and insulin caused by eating a 1lb starch ball may not be good for you, and may even contribute to adult onset diabetes. If you eat potatoes everyday, go for a walk too!

In this case, we want lightly boiled potatoes to finish via roasting with the pork drippings. Do notfully cook the potatoes in this step.

The procedure is simple, remove any eyes or dark spots (cyanide is bad for you), rinse, peel if desired, cut into fork worthy pieces, and immerse in water at a roiling boil for 5-7 minutes before setting aside to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, rub with a thin layer of oil and rock or flake salt & rosemary to taste. This oil will help the potatoes crisp up in the oven.

All good? Great, just lay them evenly spaced at the based of your pan and get ready to add the pork. In this case I used bamboo kebob skewers to hold the pork loin just above the potatoes. This allows good dry-heat flavors to arise in meats and starches from the added air circulation.

Step 3: Perforate the Pork

At this point, you may be wondering what is so special about this tutorial, where I felt the right to stake out on my own, carelessly casting prepacked Sunday Roast instructions to the wind.

Well dear readers the answer is simple, Garlic, lots and lots of Garlic.

Garlic is good for you, almost everybody loves it, it goes well on at least 51% of food, and it is oh so easy to cook with.

First, with a sharp paring knife, make a series of 2.5cm or so deep punctures about every 2cm apart and across the entire top of the roast, forming an even grid pattern. Then, peel 6 or so cloves of garlic, cutting each into 4 long, thin slivers. Now with your finger, simply push each garlic sliver into one of the perforations until it is mostly if not completely hidden by the meat.

Doing this will ensure that all of the sharp, floral notes of the garlic become trapped in the meat, rather than boiling off and leaving the more traditional roasty notes behind. This will give your pork loin a distinctive fresh taste comparable to cold cuts in flavor density that will permeate the meat and remain just as enjoyable from the first to the last day.

Step 4: A Consideration to Cracklin

Have you had Cracklin? Real homemade stuff that comes off a slow roasted pig, not that pork rindy prepackaged stuff?

It is delicious. Cracklin is simply pork skin and/or fat roasted crispy and salted. If you want it on your pork, it is very easy to make. Simply score the pork fat & skin in a 2cm grid and rub salt onto the surface before cooking. When the pork was just out of the oven to rest, the table was half set, and the veggies were still cooking, Mom would break off a few pieces of cracklin for us to gnaw on before the meal.

If your diet permits, I heartily suggest you continue this tradition. Otherwise, as you can see below, I've rested a few slices of onion on top of the roast to give it even more delicious allium flavor.

Step 5: Flame On!

All seasoned, sliced, and ready to go? Great, pop that baby in for 1:50 at 350°F or until it hits an internal temperature of 170°F. Then, pull the pork out and set it aside to rest partly covered.

Do you like your potatoes crispy? Switch that oven to broil at 450°F and put them back in for another 10 minutes or so until they turn golden brown and start to bubble at the surface.

Voila, your meal is complete!

Step 6: Victory Lap & Final Thoughts

The loin was finished, the potatoes were golden and crispy up top and tangy and juicy on the bottom. The meat was just as you'd imagine it tasted, but something was amiss...

It was at this point that I realized I'd made a shocking omission. This was to my great shame as I'd previously written an entire instructable about it.


I'm sorry, I just can't eat roasted meat without gravy, and while I had all the rich, juicy, caramelized drippings needed to make a traditional English gravy, I lacked the flour or starch to bulk it up. Desperately looking around the kitchen for a compatible ingredient, my mind raced to a wiki-roaming spree on the history of hardtack:

  1. Hardtack is almost entirely white flour with sparse ingredients added to tweak its properties.
  2. Saltine crackers or pilots' wafers, the modern successor to Hardtack, are legally required equipment for Alaskan Private Pilots.
  3. Saltine crackers are pretty much just cooked white flour with a touch of salt.

Mrs. Zoll from First Grade, your lesson about the Mayflower may have saved my gravy.

So I tried an experiment, I added water to the meat drippings in the pan, simmered until a dark brown liquid was obtained, added a few of my roasted onions, and then stirred in about 8 crumbled saltine crackers before leaving to simmer. After about 30 minutes it made an excellent thick, smooth, dark, and savory gravy. A bit of googling showed some anecdotal claims of cracker gravy being made in the great depression, but as near as I can figure this is an all new recipe. I would love to hear otherwise if someone else has tried this.

I hope you've enjoyed my Instructable everyone, happy roasting!

James Schlitt
Punk Love Designs

Like to see more of my work? Check my site at I specialize in pen and ink illustration and terrible photography of rare and interesting species, along with the occasional tech hack. I follow the biochemists' mantra structure= function, such that a wrench = a hammer if you swing it right.