Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Marinated Roast Loin of Pork with Mushroom Gravy...and smashed potatoes redux

Though the French are fond of simmering pork in milk which ensures moist tenderness, sometimes only roasted pork will satisfy a certain appetite. Since loin pork roasts that come my way usually lack a thick, top layer of fat which would act as a self-basting source, I do two things to keep it from becoming a dry husk of its former succulent self: 1) marinading with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and sage overnight and 2) roasting first at a higher temperature and then halfway through lowering the heat. Tucking some chopped onions and carrots under the meat adds flavour to the gravy while including the liquid from soaking dried Boletus edulis cèpes increases the amount.

 Nicely browned with a thin crackling and redolent of herbs, this roast looks, smells, and tastes delicious

Recipe for mashed potatoes is here

MARINADE (for a roast weighing about a kilogram)

Olive oil, extra virgin, around 4 tsps
Herbs, fresh (I used equal proportions of thyme and sage from our potager), 1 T
Garlic, 2 cloves, pressed
Salt

PORK ROAST
4 generous servings

Loin of pork, boneless, about 1 kg/2.2 pounds in weight
Onion, 1 small, finely chopped, about 2 T
Carrot, 1 small, finely chopped, about 2 T

GRAVY

Cèpes, a small handful
Liquid from soaking cèpes, 16 fluid ounces/455 ml
Drippings from the pork roast, 2 T (if not sufficient, melt enough butter)
Flour, white, 2 T
Carrot & onions roasted underneath the roast
Cream, 1 T
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The night before make the marinade. Mix the minced herbs, pressed garlic, and olive oil together to get a gloppy paste.


Using your fingers, rub the paste all over the roast--top, bottom, front, back, and sides. Dust the top of the pork lightly with salt. Choose an oven pan that is not much bigger than the roast (to prevent drippings from evaporating/scorching). Cover well with plastic wrap or your fridge will reek from garlic. Reserve overnight.


The next day, preheat oven to 425 degrees F/218 degrees C. Instructions for soaking cèpes are here. Finely chop the carrots and onions and place under the pork, making sure that the veggies are covered by the meat.  If they stray outside the protective cover of the roast they will get carbonised. Put the roast in the oven. 

After about forty-five minutes, lower temperature to 350 degrees F/177 degrees C.  Following about forty minutes, test by piercing the meat and checking the juice which should have a slight tinge of pink (See related post at the end for more information on safely roasting pork without overcooking). Put roast on a warm plate and place a large enough bowl over it to keep it warm while the gravy is prepared. Slice just before serving, making sure any juice that oozes out is added to the gravy.

Transfer the drippings and the veggies (discarding any that got burnt) from the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Add butter if necessary as to get two tablespoons of fat. Stir in two tablespoons of flour to the hot fat and cook for about a minute. Pour slowly, stirring all the while, the liquid from soaking the cèpes. Add the chopped mushrooms. Mix smooth with a hand-held blender. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Add the cream and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.



Any leftover pork slices can be frozen. Freezing the surplus gravy separately allows a gentle way of reheating the pork: bring the gravy to a simmer first and then add the meat. Within a minute or two, the slices will be ready to serve without much additional cooking which could lessen its tenderness.


A slice or so of roasted pork was reserved to add to stir fry brown rice (recipe is here). I sauteed thinly sliced pork in hot oil briefly, for about a minute.


Reserve them on a plate while finishing the fried rice, tossing in the pork towards the end of cooking.


Our harvest from the previous season is slowly and surely diminishing. The last of the taters went into a skillet of smashed potatoes (recipe is here). Remember to discard any potatoes that have a greenish tint since the skins will be eaten. Omitting onions and mild chili peppers, I used a mix of minced fresh fennel, thyme, rosemary, and sage from our potager. The herbs along with chopped garlic were added after the potatoes were flipped over and close to the end of cooking so as to keep those ingredients from becoming burnt. With freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled over them, this is fast becoming my favourite comfort food.

Fifty percent of the potatoes we eat annually are homegrown!

Our cache of frozen strawberries won't last until this season's harvest, but happily there's enough to last for a few more months. The Calm One makes weekly crepes, and this time we stuffed them with whipped cream and our juicy berries. We then topped them with icing sugar. Pas trop mal!


Eating these delicious berries spurred me to tidy the strawberry beds in anticipation of the harvest starting in late spring. This is the time to order bare-rooted strawberries for late winter/early spring planting. Remember that they are adaptable to growing in pots/barrels and around shrubs because of their pretty flowers, attractive foliage, and gorgeous fruit.

The front end has been weeded and the strawberry plants mounded up to their crowns

The mild, wet winter has encouraged very early sprouting of the rhubarb.


The same weather has allowed the broccoli to stay alive though it is technically mid-winter. Unfortunately the harvest is very light anyway because I just could not keep on top of the ravenous appetite of slugs. Mild, rainy weather does have its disadvantages.


The only flowering is happening on the winter heather.


I have discovered where Elmo the cat lives. Recently, I was returning home from my daily walk and when I was several houses from ours, Mr. Elmoface trotted out from chez lui to greet me. He then followed me to my front door, came in, had a brief rest on the living room rug, meowed plaintively, and hypnotized me to give him a butter pellet and a splash of cream. Then off he went. I got to wonder how many other households are on his feeding itinerary as he is one persuasive feline.

Now tell me those eyes are not mesmerizing! 

À la prochaine!

RELATED POSTS

Transplanting strawberries
Freezing strawberries

RELATED LINKS

How to roast pork safely without overcooking