Combine 1 gallon water and salt in a large stockpot, stirring until salt dissolves. Add pork to brine; refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove pork from brine; discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine sugar, vinegar, bourbon, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 9 minutes or until reduced to 2/3 cup. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Set aside.
Combine olive oil, ground pepper, and garlic in a small bowl; rub evenly over pork. Top with thyme sprigs. Place pork in a large roasting pan. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Brush brown sugar mixture evenly over pork; bake an additional 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of pork registers 140° (slightly pink). Place pork on a platter. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
Wine note: Brined Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze begs for a wine that's not actually sweet, but seems to be because it's so fruity. Juicy red Zinfandel is that kind of wine. Go for Dutton Goldfield's intense 2007 Zin from the Morelli Lane Vineyard in California's chilly Russian River Valley ($40). Planted by Italian settlers more than 100 years ago, these vines give up bright berry and cherry flavors, plus a spiciness that makes the most of the black peppercorns in the glaze (and, in fact, the rest of this tangy, spicy menu). --Sara Schneider
The main change I made was the brine. I followed this recipe: 6 cups water, 1/2 cup each salt and dark brown sugar, 2 bay leaves, a handfull of peppercorns, and 6 sprigs of thyme. After brining overnight, I drained the brine, but left the spices/herbs to cook with the pork. DELICIOUS!
The meat was delicious- moist and flavorful. The sauce was also delicious, but a bit of a mess. I used sherry in place of the bourbon. It reduced in far less than 9 minutes and hardened as it cooled. When reheating to soften it, I had to thin it (with some chicken broth) to use it. The roast is so flavorful, I am looking forward to reheating it for another meal. (The sauce-probably not.)
This is a budget friendly recipe for special occasions. I would make it again during fall or winter months. It had a most amazing aroma that we enjoyed all day. Follow directions precisely as written in recipe and you can't go wrong. Serve it with traditional sides such as potatoes and green beans.
Brining made the meat tender and flavorful. The glaze was a waste of time and ingredients. Boiling for 9 minutes turned it into sticky caramel that was impossible to use until diluted with hot water. When brushed on the meat and heated for the last few minutes, the glaze ran off the pork into the pan -- pointless.
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