Folks in the nacle are talking recipes lately. I’ll share a tasty winter recipe I made a few weeks ago: A basic (but quite tasty) Pork Roast.
4-5 pounds or so of roasting pork (shoulder, loin, butt, etc.; pork chops will do too)
6-8 medium potatoes
4 medium onions
4-5 parsnips, or 1 big rutabaga, or 2 medium rutabagas (I don’t recommend omitting these — they provide a very useful amount of bite).
1-2 turnips (optional)
1-2 yams (optional)
Items for marinade (see below)
*Note: You will need a relatively large roasting pan for this particular amount. Ours is about 10 by 15 by 7 inches, and this amount of food barely fit in it. If you don’t have a roasting pan that large, use what you’ve got, and reduce the recipe to fit.
If you don’t have a roasting pan with a lid, there are ways to fake it. Find your largest substitute — a 9×13 cake pan or whatever. Reduce the recipe by, say, 2/3 in size or so, to make it fit. And cover the pan with foil, once the roast is in it. This isn’t the same as a roasting pan, but it’s not a bad substitute.
1. Marinate the pork. You can largely improvise; I tend to. This time around, the marinade was more or less this:
1/2 cup lite soy sauce
2 tbsp or so Worcestershire sauce (*Do not overdo the Worcestershire sauce, it’s one of the few things that can really overpower this dish in a bad way).
1/4 cup chopped garlic in olive oil
1 tbsp mixed spices
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp rosemary
(Both thyme and rosemary are superb roasting spices)
1/4 cup capers.
1/8 cup olive oil.
1/8 c or so lemon juice.
You’ll want some acid in your marinade, so that it penetrates. Either lemon juice or vinegar will do, though vinegar has a stronger flavor. (If you’re using Italian dressing to marinate, then leave the lemon juice out — no need to double up on the acid.) You’ll also want to take a fork and poke the meat a lot, so that it has tiny holes the marinade can get in.
If you have a whole roast, you’ll want to marinate at least 2 hours. If your roast is pre-cut into sections, or you’re using pork chops, you can marinate less time — 1/2 hour for pork chops.
2. While it’s marinating, peel your potatoes, and cut them in half. Not smaller — they’ll cook just fine at that size, and if they’re too small they’ll turn into mush.
Peel the other veggies. Cut the onions in half, too. The carrots and parsnips can be whole. Big chunks are the way to go with the veggies, especially if you’re using a whole roast and not a cut-up roast.
3. Put the roast in the pan. Throw on 1/4 c or so of garlic. Surround it with the veggies. Try to get some variety in veggie height — this will matter, later. Some veggies should be on the bottom of the pan. Others should be near the top. They’ll taste different depending on where they are, and you’ll want a variety.
Pour some of the marinade into the roasting pan, but not so much as to make your roast soggy. The marinade level in the pan should be enough to almost, but not quite, submerge a laying-down carrot — so depending on the size of the pan, you may need 1/2 or 3/4 cup of marinade. This is useful because it will help create tasty broth, but you don’t want too much liquid to start.
Preheat the oven to 350.
4. Throw some spices on the top of the top veggies, because they won’t get the benefit of cooking in the broth. I threw on about a tablespoon of mixed spices, 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in olive oil, a few tablespoons of olive oil, 3 crushed bay leaves, and 1/2 tsp or so of thyme.
5. Cover it, and toss it in the oven.
6. Cook at 350 for — well, it depends. For a whole roast, you’ll need 2-3 hours minimum. Maybe more. For pork chops, 80 or 90 minutes is likely to be fine.
Pull it out at the 2 hour mark, if it’s a big roast, and either use a meat thermometer to see if it’s done (160), or cut it open in a thick part and check the color. For a big 5-pound roast, depending on location, it may need 3-4 hours. If in doubt, re-cover and put it back in for another 30 minutes or hour.
7. Once done, pull it out. You should have a mix of crunchy veggies (on the top) and soft, juicy, broth-cooked veggies on the bottom. The pork should be done.
Tilt the pan and use your 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the drippings. Let them sit a moment, and the fat will separate. Pork fat is pretty unhealthy, so I skim that off and toss it. Strain the drippings, too.
8. Put the strained, de-fatted drippings in a saucepan. Take out corn starch and it mix with cold water, 1/4 cup cold water to about 2 tbsp corn starch. Once it’s thoroughly mixed and dissolved in the cold water, mix it into the hot drippings. (Don’t put undissolved cornstarch directly into the hot liquid or you’ll end up making cornstarch dumplings, not gravy.) Cook it until it turns clear, usually a minute or so. If you want thicker gravy, use more cornstarch mixture.
9. Serve, and enjoy!
10. Bonus: Once you’ve had it a few days, if there’s much in the way of leftovers remaining: Take out your 9×13 cake pan. Debone, cut the pork into little cubes, and toss any obvious fat chunks. Cut up any big veggies. Put it all in the pan, and dump the gravy over it all. Cook that at 350 for 1/2 hour or so. Throw some cheese on the top. It’s a great way to put a new spin on leftover roast pork, veggies and gravy.
Okay, what recipes have you been enjoying lately?