May 19, 2013
This recipe, another one from Raymond, would be great for a dinner party. Made with a 4-pound boneless pork roast, it serves at least 8 people. I made it with a 2-pounder, and got 6 servings, so I think you could get 12 servings.
The only tricky part--and it wouldn't be tricky if you paid attention to what you were doing--was cutting a slit in the middle of the roast in which to stuff the fruit (prunes and dried apricots). I had a very sharp knife (good) which I used carelessly (bad). Not only did I cut through to the bottom of the roast, instead of just the middle, but I also tried to slice off the tip of my finger. That made me feel like a Top Chef contestant--they're always cutting their fingers, and there are a lot of snarky comments by the other contestants if they abandon their project and go get stitches. I was not a wuss. I just wrapped enough bandages around my finger to stop the bleeding and soldiered on.
With the string tied tightly enough, the fruit stayed in the pork, even though it wasn't in the middle, as it was supposed to be. I love the taste you get when you tuck garlic slivers in the top layer of fat in a pork roast. And I love the flavor that the layer of fat adds. Pork has become leaner and leaner over the years, and now a pork loin requires the kind of care that chicken breasts take--overcook either one by a tad, and it becomes dry. It didn't hurt in the fat department that the roast was supposed to be slathered with half a stick of butter.
Since it already had that nice layer of fat, I cut back on the butter--by a tablespoon.
I thought I had some madeira in my liquor cabinet, but it turned out that I didn't, and it was Sunday (in Minnesota, that means you can't buy anything with alcohol in it). I was going to use ruby port as a substitute, but I spied this bottle of Calvados, which I thought would pair nicely with the pork. And isn't Monica always telling us to go gutsy? I'm a born recipe-follower, so making this substitution made me feel downright daring. I skipped the molasses, too, because I don't much like it.
The 2-pound roast was in the oven for less than an hour when it reached 145 degrees, the recommended roasting temperature. For those of us who grew up hearing horror stories about trichinosis, and whose mothers cooked the bejeesus out of pork, this is still slightly audacious, if not completely gutsy.
After resting for about 15 minutes, the pork was tender and juicy, with fruity notes from the Calvados, prunes, and apricots. It's stunning visually, and really good. Also easier than it looks, especially if you don't stab yourself while you're doing it. I paired it with butter-braised Yukon Gold potatoes and sauteed cherry tomatoes. But it's not hard to think of other go-withs that would taste great.
All of Raymonds four May recipes looked delicious. So far, this is the only one I've been home to make, and I'm going to Chicago next week, so the other three have to go in my catch-up file.
Jim: "I like it. I'll give it an 8." I guess he was feeling especially laconic.
Marie: "I'll give it a 9, and I don't think I've ever given anything a 10 because a 10 is perfect. So a 9 is kind of like a 10."