Thursday, October 31, 2013

OhFeelYa's Easy...Suppers--Jay's Pig and Potatoes

If we're all being real, I don't think very many people come home from work and bust out a Julia Child recipe or something equally fabulous every night. Most folks, even those of us who love to cook and are pretty comfy in the kitchen, don't go nuts every time we need to eat. Plus, I have plenty of friends, family, and darling fellow derby girls who do not fancy themselves culinary rock stars and indeed are loathe to do more than a crockpot recipe or sandwich.

So I thought I'd do a weekly series about during-the-week, simple, hearty food that the family can eat for a few days running without us all having to order pizza or Chinese from around the corner every week night. (I share in these bad habits, my friends, but have you every REALLY looked at the mystery meat that comes from the Chinese joint around the corner?) So without further ado, I give you:

Jay's Pig and Potatoes

My husband comes from good Irish and Italian stock. I think he identifies more with the Irish side because that man can eat potatoes on a constant basis. I mean daily. And with no garnish whatsoever. I jest you not, the man will go in the kitchen, maybe wash the potato, poke some holes in it, microwave it, and eat it off a paper towel like Gollom eats a fish. It's a little traumatic for my foodie soul. However, he's always game to eat my experiments, and, glory be, the man will eat leftovers until they're gone. I make Pig and Potatoes for him on busy weeks.

You will need: 
A pork loin or roast. You can get a fancy one from a butcher or get a super-simple prepackaged one. The brand pictured comes in various flavors of marinade. Try to get a mellow one for this recipe (avoid BBQ or Teriyaki-bleh). Season it with salt and pepper if it is plain.
Some root veggies. Jay likes baking potatoes or the smaller red potatoes. You could also use sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, hard squashes like butternut and so on. Whatever tickles your...whatever. Make sure you throw in some onion and garlic. 
Some fat to brown the roast. I use leftover bacon grease because a) my spouse digs the pig on pig action, b) he doesn't have weight or cholesterol issues, and c) it tastes really good. However, you can use any neutral oil like vegetable or canola. I would avoid butter, as it will brown and burn too fast. 
Some white wine. The better the wine, the better the flavor, but I think this was pretty inexpensive (I mean like Beringer inexpensive) and it was fine for the purposes of this recipe.
Salt and pepper.
A little rosemary and/or thyme add to the flavor, but aren't necessary.
Chop your veggies into whatever size you like, but don't make them too tiny or they'll turn to mush. Jay likes a rustic cut, and it's not like the knife-skills police are lurking outside your kitchen windows, for crying out loud. I did dice the garlic after I took this shot. 
 Get a medium-size pot that is both stove top and oven safe. Melt about 2T of your fat into the pot over a medium heat. When you can flick water into the melted fat and it pops, it's hot enough. You really want to get a good sear on your pork, like this:
 When the pork is good and seared on at least three sides, remove it to a plate and lower the heat to low. See all that burnt-on brown junk in the bottom of your pot? IT'S LIKE KITCHEN GOLD. This is where the flavor is. Take a wooden spoon, about a cup of the wine, pour in the wine, and scrape like mad to get all the brown bits off the bottom.
Now you can throw in your veggies and nestle the roast down in them. Sprinkle with salt (I really like garlic salt or sea salt) and plenty of pepper. Add some dried thyme (1t) or rosemary (1/2-3/4t) if you have some handy.  Add some veggie or chicken stock or water until the veggies and roast are about 3/4 covered. Put a lid on it (or cover with foil if your pot has no lid) and put it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and half. About halfway through, take out the roast, flip it over, and stir the veggies so everything cooks evenly. You don't want to take this out until you can slide a knife or fork into the pork without much resistance. You really can't leave this in the oven too long for the pork. However, your veggies will get mushy if you leave it in forever. 

Happily, it will look like this when it's done:

Here's the important bit. You HAVE to pull the pork out and let it rest for at least ten minutes before cutting so the juices will reabsorb into the flesh. If you pull it out and cut it right away, all the goodie winds up dripping off the cutting board and down your cupboard doors. Gross.

I know this seems like a lot of steps, but it's really easy when you get to it, and then it cooks itself. Just try it once, and you'll be shocked at what a great cook you are. Plus, it's way cheaper than Chinese, you'll have leftovers, and your house will smell fantastic. This is a versatile recipe, so play around with seasoning and veggies. You can do this with beef (I like rump roast), red wine, and a half cup of coffee (I swear to God; a splash of coffee is the secret to a rich roast) for a variation.

Condensed recipe after the jump...

Jay's Pig and Potatoes
  • Pork roast or loin
  • 4-6 cups coarsely chopped root vegetables (any potato variation, including sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, butternut or other hard squash)
  • One large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, diced (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • 2T fat (I used bacon grease, but you can use any neutral oil like canola or vegetable)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken or veggie stock or water will work
  • salt and pepper
  • rosemary and/or thyme if you have it
If your pork is not pre-marinated, sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Heat your fat over medium heat in a stovetop AND oven-safe pot. When your fat is good and hot (pops when you flick a drop of water in it--be careful!), it's ready for the pork. Let your pork get good and seared (brown) on at least three sides. Remove it to a plate or bowl. Pour in the wine and scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. 

Pour all your chopped veggies into the pot, nestle pork down into it, pour in stock or water until the contents of the pot are about 3/4 covered, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and another herb like rosemary or thyme if you have it. Place pot in a 350 degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half until a fork penetrates the pork easily. When it's ready, put pork on a plate to rest for at least ten minutes before cutting. Enjoy!