Rôti de porc poêlé
(Adapted from Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1)
This has become one of our all-time favourite recipes and a great option for small dinner parties, but we came across it in an odd way. We were planning a big dinner because my sister Marianne was coming to visit us in Edmonton. I had come across a recipe for pork roast that sounded great – the sauce included madeira and three kinds of mushrooms. We were in Safeway picking out some chanterelles when Lynn said “does Marianne eat mushrooms?” Zut! She hates them and has been known to pick them off of pizza before eating it. So what to do with the large pork roast we had already acquired? A quick scan through the cooking “bibles” led us to this recipe. It is easy to make, delicious and not at all fiddly. With the exception of a bit of mashing at the end, the work is done and cleaned up long before the guests arrive.
Note: For “casserole” read French oven, e.g. le Creuset or equivalent
For 8 people:
per pound of pork:
- 1 tsp coarse salt (kosher or pickling salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¼ tsp ground thyme or a small bunch of fresh thyme
- ⅛ tsp dried tarragon leaves, crushed
- pinch allspice
- ½ clove mashed garlic (OK, we usually put in two or three cloves!)
- 5 lb boneless roast of pork
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tbsp butter, if needed
- 1 large or 2 medium sliced yellow onions
- 2 sliced carrots
- 5 cloves unpeeled garlic
- 4 flat leaf parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp dried thyme or a small bunch of fresh thyme
- ¾ cup dry white wine, or wine mixed with water. Vegetable or pork stock would work, as would canned beef or chicken bouillon if that’s all you have. Dry sherry could be substituted for some of the wine, but a better option would be to drink the dry sherry while preparing the roast.
Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub them into the surface of the pork. Place in a covered bowl. Place in the refrigerator. Turn the meat 3 to 4 times over 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Scrape off the marinade, and dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels. Set the casserole over moderately high heat, and as it warms add the cooking oil. When the fat is quite hot brown the pork on all sides. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove the pork to a side dish.
Pour all but 2 tbsp of fat out of the casserole. If the fat has burned, remove it all and add the butter. Add additional butter if the fat is less than a tablespoon. Stir in the vegetables, herbs and garlic. Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
Place the meat in the casserole with its fattiest side up. Cover and heat the casserole until the meat is sizzling, then place in the lower third of the oven until done. Julia says you should baste with the juices in the casserole two or three times while it cooks, but I think this is not really necessary. The internal temperature should reach 1450 F. A 5 lb boneless roast will take about 2 hours.
When it is done, place the pork on a hot serving platter and discard the trussing strings.
Pour the liquid (wine/broth) into the casserole and simmer slowly for two to three minutes. Then tilt the casserole and skim out any excess fat, leaving only a tablespoon or two. Mash the vegetables into the juices. Boil rapidly to incorporate them, then pour into a hot gravy boat. The sauce should be a bit rustic but not really chunky.
Surround the pork roast with a vegetable garnish and serve.
Mashed potatoes are good with this dish. Brussels sprouts are a good accompaniment, as long as you don’t mercilessly boil the life out of them. Aim for slightly al dente.
A dry, white, not too fruity wine is called for. In a perfect world, Alsatian Tokay Pinot Gris from a grand cru vineyard, but an un-oaked Ontario chardonnay would be just fine.