March 7, 2012


Big Roast

Creativity craves constraint. That's why when my friend Julie's brother, a pig farmer, offered up family packs of pork cuts, I happily stuffed the freezer with a month's worth of dinners. Given the scarcity of our local larder (potatoes, carrots, celeriac, turnips and parsnips), good cuts of great meat were what I needed to get dinners going again. There's nothing better in these dreary March days than a good butt roast with plenty of roots and some herbs, it's easy and satisfying. The rep is a snap and the long slow cooking turns the roast tender and silky. Make dinner for tonight and then make pulled pork sandwiches or carnitas in the days to come.

Roast Pork with Garlic, Rosemary and Roots
Serves 6 to 8

6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 picnic shoulder or butt roast pork (about 5 pounds)
3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 sprigs rosemary
3 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, cut into chunks

Cut the garlic cloves into slivers. Cut deep slits into the pork and push the slivers of garlic into the pork and season it with the pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a large deep Dutch oven or flame-proof roasting pan, cook the bacon until it's crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the grease in the pan. Saute the roast in the bacon fat until it is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Lift out the roast, add the onions to the pan and cook until they're wilted, about 5 minutes. Set the roast on top of the onions and add the beer and stock, then cover the roast with the rosemary sprigs. Cover the pan and place it in the oven. Roast until the pork reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. About 2 hours into the roasting, add the carrots and parsnips to the pan and turn to coat with the pan juices. Remove the meat to a platter and let stand for about 20 minutes before carving. Serve the pork topped with the onions and vegetables and the pan juices.

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