Hey, let’s make a sandwich!
This week’s sandwich idea was born from the fact that a certain cut of meat at my local store was on sale. I consider myself lucky in that I have a good produce and meat market about a half mile from my house. One day I was perusing the meat aisle as a person such as myself is expected to do and I found a “pork loin end roast” on sale and I decided to buy it and turn it into a sandwich. I would assume that I’m not alone in making decisions like this.
About pork end loin roasts?
If you ever find yourself on pork.org looking for information about pork loin end roasts, you’ll find that they’re not the same as the easier-to-find, pork loin. You can get pork loin roasts with the bone still inside or you can get them boneless. Mine happened to have a bone in there, so I got a few minutes of deboning practice for my sandwich troubles.
Can you make this with a pork loin or another cut of pork?
Sure. But you should google the time and temp for the cut of pork that you’re working with. But the spices and other parts of this sandwich will work with all sorts of properly cooked pork.
What other ingredients will we pair with this pork?
Pork loin as well as pork loin roasts are lean cuts of meat so I knew I would need some help to make this a tasty and juicy sandwich. My wife suggested our favorite port wine and cranberry sauce that we make when we’re searing fancy steaks in a cast iron skillet, and I also whipped up a new recipe for a mustardy slaw that pairs great with pork.
Read on for more about the sandwich that I created.
For these sandwiches, I made my brioche bun recipe. I haven’t made this recipe in a while and felt they would work well with the pork and slaw.
Brioche is made from an enriched dough, which means it is made with fats like butter or oil and typically eggs or at least egg yolks along with flour, salt, yeast, and water. My recipe uses a whole stick of butter and two whole eggs.
Brioche dough typically takes a bit more kneading than some other doughs. It seems like it needs a good 15 to 20 minutes in the mixer, so this dough is a labor of love if you are planning to knead it by hand.
Once the dough is fully gluten-ized, it’s easy to work with, but I still place it in the fridge overnight or at least for a few hours so it will be easier to shape. This isn’t fully required, but it does help you end up with consistent and smooth dough balls.
Brioche buns typically require an egg wash painted on right before baking to make them shiny. The egg wash is created with a whole egg plus a tablespoon of water, and it is what gives Brioche its shiny, brown, and smooth top.
I love how a smooth brioche bun dough becomes smoother after proofing and then even smoother after baking. It’s because the dough, when pulled into a taut ball, has no other option than to become tighter and tauter until it’s about as smooth as it can get.
My brioche bun recipe is great for a sandwich like this. Some folks think it’s a bad choice for burgers, but I disagree. A soft, fresh-baked brioche bun is a thing of beauty. Go brioche if you’re feeling fancy!
Cajun spiced pork roast
I bought my pork roast without paying attention to whether it was bone in or bone out. It was on sale!
Mine had a bone that I carefully removed prior to seasoning and cooking. Once I had the bone removed, I was left with a big flat piece of meat that sort of resembled a very large chicken thigh. I seasoned the exposed surface with Cajun seasoning and then rolled the meat up and trussed it with kitchen twine.
Once the meat is all nicely tied up, you can coat it with a bit of olive oil and then dust the outside with the spice rub to coat it. You’ll have to get your hands a little messy making sure the seasoning is fully coating everything, but that’s nothing a little soap and water won’t be able to fix.
This spice blend is really really close to my Bojangle’s copycat Cajun french fry seasoning, with a little more sugar and a bit more cayenne pepper powder. Reserve at least 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, but you probably won’t use it all. My tests with this spice blend on a roast of this size left me with at least a tablespoon remaining once it was fully coated.
Roast the rolled-up pork in a 350-degree F oven until it gets to 145 F (62 C) internal temperature. I typically will pull mine off at 140 because the meat is hot all the way through and after it leaves the oven it should “carry over” cook and keep rising in internal temperature for quite a few minutes after removal from the oven.
Once the meat is fully cooked and the internal temperature is confirmed, you need to let it rest before slicing. I usually opt for about 45 minutes to an hour for this resting stage. But you can let the meat cool and then transfer it to a sealed container in the refrigerator if you want. Cooler meat is easier to slice meat. I opted to reheat the sliced meat before I use it for sandwiches anyway, so it doesn’t need to be sliced warm.
Cranberry port wine sauce
I finally found a second reason to buy canned cranberry sauce!
This sauce is a recipe that my wife has been making for many years whenever we sear steaks in the cast iron skillet. The point of this recipe with steak is that it uses the fond, or pan drippings left behind after cooking the steak as the base flavor agent in the sauce.
You can’t really pull this technique off with this preparation of roast pork (I tried it), because the pork produces a bit too much of a fatty or greasy residue that seems to prevent the sauce from thickening. BUT you can just do what I did with my second round of this sauce and make it in a pan while the pork is finishing or cooling off and add some Cajun seasoning into the end result to tie things together.
Every so often, you must make a little salad.
Mustard and slaw are perfect with just about almost any pork sandwich. This is a simple slaw that is very similar to other slaw recipes I’ve shared here, but this one has a bit more focus on mustard.
If you plan to become adept at making lots of sandwiches, you really should learn to make a few good slaw options. This one won’t let you down. Reduce the amount of mustard to have a more traditional slaw for pulled pork or chicken.
Is cheese needed in this sandwich?
If you’re one of those people that think all sandwiches need a bit of cheese, I made a couple of versions of these sandwiches with gorgonzola crumbles, and it worked really well with the combination.
Most of this week’s sandwiches did not contain any cheese, but the ones that did were solid. I added it as an optional ingredient in the final recipe below.
The sandwiches and recipe
Here are a bunch of photos of this sandwich in all the iterations that I made this week. It turns out that a big pork roast can turn into a lot of different sandwiches.
Want to kick up your roast pork sandwich with a fancy port wine cranberry sauce and some mustardy slaw? What a coincidence. That's what this recipe does!
Ingredients:Cajun spiced roast pork and cranberry port wine sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dark or light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 to 4 pound pork loin roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3⁄4 cup port or other sweet red wine
- 3 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce (the kind in a can)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium beef broth
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Cajun rub (from above)
- 1⁄2 head green cabbage, shredded
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 3 green onions, sliced thin
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1 soft bun, hamburger bun or brioche bun
- mayonnaise (optional)
- 2 to 4 slices roast pork (from above)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons port wine cranberry sauce (from above)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese crumbles (optional)
- mustardy slaw (from above)
Cajun spiced roast pork: combine salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, celery salt, chili powder, MSG and cayenne powder to form the Cajun spice rub. This can be stored in a sealed container on your counter. This rub is great sprinkled on fries or used to season something like grilled steak or chicken.
Add olive oil to the outside of your pork roast and then coat and spread the Cajun spice rub all over the outside of the meat. Make sure to reserve at least a teaspoon of spice rub to add to the port wine and cranberry sauce.
Bake at 350 degrees F for around 90 minutes or until the interior temperature of the pork hits 140 degrees F (60 C). Carry-over cooking should cover the last few degrees.
Port wine cranberry sauce: in a medium skillet over medium heat add port wine, cranberry sauce, beef broth (or chicken broth), minced garlic, and a teaspoon of the spice rub. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and starting to thicken.
Remove the sauce to a sealed container and you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave or in a small pot/skillet if needed.
Mustardy slaw: add your shredded cabbage and carrot to a large bowl. If you have a food processor, don't forget that some of them have a shredding feature. Use that to shred if you can. Makes things quick.
Add green onions, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and apple cider vinegar to your bowl and mix with a spoon to combine everything thoroughly.
Taste the slaw at this point to see if it needs anything else. Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Sandwich assembly: toast your bun if desired. Add mayonnaise to the bottom bun if you prefer.
Top the bottom bun with 2 to 4 slices of roast pork.
Drizzle on some port wine cranberry sauce. Top that with gorgonzola crumbles (if using).
Add some mustardy slaw and then top the sandwich with the top bun. Serve and enjoy.
Check back next week
Next week we’ll be pretending to be playing the part of Julie in that Julie and Julia movie.
Check back and see how that works out for all of us.