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Any season pork roast

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.
Pork roast ingredients.
Browned Pork butt.
Browned garlic on a white plate.

Browned carrots and onions with red wine.

Browned vegetables with red wine

Red wine braised pork roast with apples and thyme in a white dish.

Right before going into the oven

Adapted from a recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Serves 8

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.

Friday night super food!

Sauteed shrimp on a white plate.

Sauteed shrimp on top of kale, turnips and red pepper

I put together this dish last night. I needed to use up an unusual combination of vegetables – turnips and kale, and I had a red pepper and one plum tomato begging to be used as it’s the end of the week. (You’re probably saying, “Yuck!”) I shop once a week for all fruits and vegetables and fill in on fish and meat from my specialty shops – Esposito’s Pork Shop and Sea Breeze Fish Market near my office. I had bought some beautiful, large, fresh Florida shrimp.

So what to do? I just thought about what would taste good for each and cooked accordingly, and hoped for the best. I always warn my husband when I’m starting to do this sort of thing, winging it, to hopefully lower expectations.

I roasted the turnips together with the red pepper tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. This roasting made the turnips sweet little chunks. While that was roasting, I slowly sautéed the garlic first, then added the kale and chicken stock and cooked them until they were very tender. At the end, I sautéed the shrimp in softened shallots and dry vermouth. Dry vermouth to me, is wonderous. Unlike just a plain dry white wine, it makes anything taste like fine French food. Really. Off heat to finish, I swirled in a bit of butter, to keep the French thing going. You can do this sort of thing with chicken too and it will taste amazing. Notice, no carbs, (I could do that because Zach was not eating with us), and we didn’t miss that starch. This turned out awesome!! My husband had 4 helpings of the kale and usually he is not a big kale fan. I think he doesn’t like it when it’s not cooked tender enough.

This makes enough to serve 4, although it was just the two of us last night. But then Zach and his girlfriend finished up everything when they came home at 3:30 am. The dirty dishes were in the sink this morning. (At least they make it to the sink!)

– serves 4

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2 good-sized turnips, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into ½” strips and then each strip cut into half lengthwise.
2 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper

Toss all together and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until turnips are fork tender and a little browned. Keep warm in a microwave (not turned on) or a warming drawer

1.5 tbs. olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 large bunch of kale, washed thoroughly, stems removed and chopped into 1” strips
1/3 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Some extra water or broth if you need it

Warm the olive oil and sauté the garlic for 10 – 15 minutes to soften. Do not let it brown. Add your kale and chicken broth, toss to combine and cover. Watch and toss often. Add more water or broth if you need to. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until kale is very tender. It will turn dark.

1.5 tbs. olive oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
1/3 cup dry vermouth
1.5 lbs. shrimp, shells removed, tails left on. Wash 3 times, dry, and salt and pepper one side of the shrimp
1 plum tomato, cut into ½” pieces
1 scant tbs. unsalted butter

Warm the olive oil and sauté the shallots on low heat for 10 minutes or longer. Do not let them brown. Turn heat up, add vermouth and let it bubble for a minute. Add the shrimp and tomato and toss and stir until the shrimp turn pink. This will take about 3 minutes. When shrimp are done, remove pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until melted.

Add the roasted turnips and red peppers with all their sauce to the kale mixture and combine. Place a mound of the kale and turnip mixture in the middle of the plate and mound a serving of shrimp in the center of the kale. Drizzle some shrimp juices on the shrimp and kale.