Sunday, October 9, 2011

A pork-stravaganza

I love this time of year. Sunny days and crisp, cool nights. Garlic planting. Long weekends. Apple cider making. And cooking up something ridiculously elaborate and tasty for dad's birthday dinner. This year, in honor of the big 7-7, it was a pastured pork extravaganza, courtesy of a little inspiration from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit and a bevy of local, seasonal ingredients from a few farmers' markets around town.

Poor mom was once again subject to a little miscalculation on my part on the amount of prep time required, so we had a rather, er, European experience, dining at 9:30 last night. The consensus: delicious, and somewhat less work than my brother's (in)famous turducken. Here's a pic of it just before going into the oven:

Pork Three Ways


In a large, deep pan, saute:
-2-3 TBSP butter
- 3-4 small onions, peeled and diced
- about 1 cup mushrooms (I used a few handfuls of dried porcini, soaked in hot water, but I think fresh would be just fine as well)
- 1 large apple, cored and diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Stir in:
- 1-2 TBSP brandy
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1 lb. ground pastured pork (mine came from EcoFriendly Foods)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Your filling is complete. Well, almost. You should also de-stem 8-10 fresh kale leaves, then blanch (i.e. boil for about 30 seconds) and quickly rinse them (under cold running water).


Preheat the oven to 400F.

Butterfly two 1 1/2-lb pastured pork shoulders (mine came from Smith Meadows Farm), place a clean towel or piece of plastic wrap on top, and pound to about 1/2" thickness. You should now have two big rectangles of pork.

Lay cooled kale on top, then spread on a thick layer of the pork/mushroom/apple filling. Roll each rectangle into a log, then wrap with prosciutto (mine came from La Quercia via Whole Foods) around the outside.

Tie the whole thing closed with kitchen twine (or, if you're fresh out of kitchen twine, have your brother help you only moderately mangle the prosciutto-wrapped pork rolls while tying them with fishing line) and tuck in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, then place the rolls atop 3-4 chopped, cored apples in a roasting pan.

Pour in:
- 1 cup apple cider (I used hard cider, but I think nonalcoholic stuff would work just as well)
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock

Place the pan in the oven and turn it up to broil for 3-5 minutes (to brown the outside), then reduce heat back to 400F and cook, uncovered, for about an hour and 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer placed in the center of each pork roll reads 140F. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before carving. Use the pan drippings to make a savory gravy. Serve pork slices alongside sauteed kale with garlic, baked sweet potatoes, and some good red wine.

(In case you're wondering, no, the four of us did not eat both roasts last night. We saved the second one to accompany our eggs florentine and a big salad for brunch this afternoon. I swear I am not a huge carnivore -- no, really -- but with all of this sustainable, pastured meat around I can't help myself. Bulking up for the winter, I suppose.)

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