Sunday, November 30, 2014

pork magic

Pork is my favorite meat. Shocker, I know. There's just something about pork, though. Something delicious. I could never be a vegetarian, because pork. Any other type of meat, I could easily do without - but take my pork away and I would be a sad panda indeed.

Last weekend I did a bone-in pork rib roast slow and low, and it turned out fantastic. I didn't take any pictures of it because I wasn't in a blogging mood (doing some work getting my brain-meats sorted out lately, hence the absence), but it was good enough that I was quite happy with the idea of a repeat performance today. When I found a blade-portion roast all ready to go AND on sale at the meat counter during my shopping trip, I did a little happy dance.

 I was thinking about doing some sort of cumin-crusted application with the pork, but one of the things I managed to forget whilst shopping was, in fact, cumin. Standing in front of my spice rack, I was starting to scheme about another rub to do when it hit me - I had a tub of ras el hanout, which is cumin-based, still sitting on the shelf from a previous spice-mixing venture. Hooray! I gave the roast a good rub of the spice mix, plus a little extra sprinkle of kosher salt, then popped it into a 250 degree oven. I checked the temperature after an hour, and down by the bone it was registering 90 degrees. Definitely not done, but that was to be expected. I bumped the oven up to 275 and left it for another 45 minutes. When I came back to check it again, it was reading at 140 by the bone. I pulled the roasted, tented it with foil, then let it rest for about 35 minutes while I roasted off the veg for my side.

When I went to carve the roast, I knew I was on to a winner. It was ridiculously tender, and the little rind of fat on top of the roast had crisped up beautifully. The rich, spicy, orange-y smell of the ras el hanout combined with pork fat was fabulous. Such a good combination!

Mmm, roasty.

The veggies on the side are a combination of roasted parsnips, Brussels sprouts, shallots, and a few carrots I had hanging around that I wanted to use up. The Brussels sprouts, for the record, were ENORMOUS. The largest one was almost as big as a lightbulb, and they were all bigger than an extra large egg. I was a little worried that they'd be bitter, but they weren't at all, which was a relief. I roasted the veg very simply - I just tossed them with salt, pepper and olive oil and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (makes a big difference in terms of things not sticking). They went into a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, then I stirred them a little and put them back in for another five minutes or so just to brown a little more. If you've never had parsnips, this is the way to try them, seriously. I grew up in a non-parsnip household because my mom hates them, but I've grown quite fond of them since my husband talked me into cooking some for him a few years back. Roasted parsnips have a sweetness to them - their astringency melts away and they end up mellow, almost fruity tasting. The more brown, crisp and caramelized they get, the more delicious they are.

For anyone playing along at home, this dish is not only completely gluten-free, but also Paleo- and Whole30 compliant.