I have been wanting to tell you about the first meal I served to our French graduate student who is going to be living with us for four months. Charlotte arrived on the Sunday before last. I wanted to make something super delicious, of course, but something that would keep in case she had issues in customs, and something with some French flavors. I figured a lot of thyme in a wonderful roast and we’d start with an adapted Jacques Pepin frisee salad with a little baby arugula added to it. I have this recipe noted in an earlier post.
Charlotte arrived about 2 hours late, but all was safe with the meal, EXCEPT that she tells me that she doesn’t eat salad!! And I’m telling you, this was a terrific salad. The rest of us scarfed down her portion. Fortunately I also had some carrots with the roast so she got some vegetables in her. (always the Mom – I can’t help it!)
This roast, however, I will make again and again. It was wonderful! Rich, savory and slightly sweet (from the apples) all at the same time, with the meat tender like butter (buttah)! Both my husband and son claimed it was better than my version of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It was more complex and interesting and let me tell you, a whole lot easier! You just need the time to leave it in the oven for 4 hours.
I was so excited to have a Sunday to make this, I took pictures at every point while preparing it, but I forgot to take a shot of the finished dish! Actually, the process pics are prettier and the result was delicious and delectable. Give this a go before the weather gets really warm to envelope yourself in wonderful flavors and sink into pure goodness, with love.
I served this with polenta squares, browned in a little olive oil and butter. Really, really yummy. Make the polenta recipe noted in an earlier post, pour into a buttered 9” x 9” pan and chill until firm. Cut into squares and sauté in butter and olive oil (1 tbs. of each) until nicely browned and hot throughout.
RED WINE BRAISED PORK ROAST WITH APPLES AND THYME
Adapted from a recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
One 4-pound boneless pork butt
2 tbs. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
3 medium onions, halved lengthwise (root end left intact) and peeled
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 cup medium-bodied red wine (such as Pinot Noir or a light Cabernet Sauvignon)
4 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
30 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cored and quartered
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 lemon, peeled using a vegetable peeler
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the pork roast on a cutting board so the long end faces you and slice through the middle horizontally and nearly to the other side of roast. Open the roast like a book (it should still be attached at one side) and season with about half of the salt and pepper. Close the roast and season the outside with the remaining salt and pepper, then use butcher’s twine to tie the roast at 1-inch intervals.
Heat half the oil in a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pork roast, browning it on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side (if it starts to get dark too fast, reduce the heat). Use tongs to transfer the pork to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and set aside. Pour the fat from the skillet into a medium bowl (cool and discard). Use tongs and paper towels to wipe out the skillet.
Pour the remaining oil into the wiped skillet. Heat the oil over high heat until it smokes, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add the carrots and place the onions and garlic halves cut-side down in the pan. After about 30 seconds, check the garlic and, if nicely browned, remove from the pan and place on a plate (or cook a little longer if needed). Continue to cook the onions and carrots until the onions are very dark (and almost threatening to burn), about 1 minute longer.
Turn off the heat and cool the pan for 1 minute. Turn the heat to medium, pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the broth and vegetables over the pork in the Dutch oven. Add the thyme, apple, rosemary, peppercorns and lemon-zest strips.
Cover the pot, place it in the oven and cook until a long-pronged fork can be inserted into the center and twisted without resistance, about 4 hours.
Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a large platter. Let the meat cool for 15 to 20 minutes before using a fork to break the roast into chunks. Meanwhile, boil the braising liquid and skim off the fat. Pour the jus over the pork and serve.