Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smothered Pork Roast with Blackened Tapenade Potatoes

* We linked this post at Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS and at Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade *

I woke up this morning to a great blanket of fog covering the pasture. There's nothing like a foggy morning to make you want to slow down and enjoy life a little more, and this dish is perfect for that.  The pot roast cooked for nearly eight hours, until it was fall-apart tender and covered in a thick, oniony gravy packed with flavor.  I made the potatoes on a whim, because we've managed to deplete our stock of greens.  They came out really good, I'd definitely recommend trying this one!

Here's the view out my back door this morning so you can get an idea of the perfect atmosphere for cooking this kind of food:

The pork roast recipe came out of Real Cajun, another of my favorite cookbooks.  The potatoes were based on a picture I saw in Seven Fires -- I didn't have the cookbook handy so I just winged it.  It came out really good!  I'll definitely have to try his version though.

Smothered Pork Roast (from Real Cajun, serves about 8):
  1. 6-8 lb shoulder or butt roast (he specifies boneless, but mine had a bone and was fine)
  2. 2-3 Tbsp sea salt
  3. 2-3 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  4. 5 medium onions, sliced thin
  5. 8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  6. 1 Tbsp dried thyme (or 3 Tbsp fresh if you have it)
  7. 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  8. 3 Tbsp lard from pastured hogs (can use oil if necessary)
  9. 1 stick grass fed butter
  10. 1/2 C. organic whole wheat flour
  11. 4 C. homemade chicken broth
  12. Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional -- I forgot to put this in, but I'll add it when we have leftovers)
Preheat your oven to 275.  While that's happening, coat your roast generously with the salt and pepper:

Heat the lard in your dutch oven if it's big enough to hold the roast, or in a large skillet otherwise.  I made this dish in my casserole, which was barely big enough to hold it.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to turn it with the hot lard and everything in the casserole, so I used a skillet for this step.  When the lard is hot, thoroughly brown the roast.  You want a nice crust all around it if you can manage:

When the roast is good and browned, remove it from heat and melt the butter in your dutch oven or casserole.  Add the flour, and whisk constantly over medium high heat for about 10 minutes to make a nice dark roux.  It's harder to judge the color of a roux with whole wheat flour, but the 10 minute timing worked out well for me:

Add the onions, garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the roux and stir well to coat.  Cook this over medium-high heat until the onions soften, stirring often.  Add the chicken broth and whisk it together until it's smooth (except the onions of course).  I added the pan scrapings from the skillet here to get the extra flavor of the browned bits, so if you browned your roast in a separate pan you should do that too.  You can use some of the chicken stock to deglaze the skillet, then just dump the works into the mix.

Put the roast in the pan and baste with the onion mix:

Now put the lid on and throw the whole works into the oven.  The cookbook says three hours will do the trick, but I always find that's optimistic.  I did mine for 8 hours and it came out perfect.  I think this may be because of the pastured Berkshire pork I use -- it has a much firmer texture than the CAFO stuff.  When the roast is tender enough to eat with a fork, add the lemon juice and serve it up.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, start the potatoes:

Smashed Potatoes with Blackened Olive Tapenade (serves 4):
  1. 2 large potatoes (russet is what I used, I think yukons or reds might be best)
  2. 16 kalamata olives, minced
  3. 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  4. 1 Tbsp capers
  5. 1 tsp thyme
  6. 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  7. 3 Tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
  8. 2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, minced
Cook the potatoes until tender.  While that's happening, mix everything else together:

When the potatoes are done, cut them in half:

Using a hand towel to protect yourself from burns, smash each potato half against the cutting board until it's about 3/4 inch thick:

Divide the tapenade amongst the four potatoes and spread it in a layer on the top:

Heat a big heavy skillet over medium high heat and add some fat to it to prevent sticking.  When it's hot, scoop each potato with a thin metal turner and confidently flip it into the skillet, tapenade side down:

Cook them over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, until the tapenade is well browned and crusty.  Then flip them and cook for another 3 or so minutes:

Take them out of the pan, put a little pat of butter on each one, and prepare to serve:

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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