Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Julia Child’s Rôti de Porc Poêlé (Casserole-roasted Pork)

This past week, I experimented with another recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MtAoFC), after having tried the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe previously. This time, I chose to prepare the Rôti de Porc Poêlé or Casserole-roasted Pork. I recently acquired an enameled cast iron casserole and an induction stove and was eager to put these to good use immediately. So here was how it went.

This recipe required preparation over the course of two days – a regular theme across many of the French recipes in the book. To start with, I marinated a 3-pound boneless pork loin with the Marinade Sèche -- a paste made with chopped shallots and garlic, crushed dried bay leaf, Jamaican allspice, ground pepper and salt. The pork loin that I bought came in a rather slender cut so I halved it after rubbing on the spiced marinade and trussed the pieces to form a heftier portion. It then went into a well-sealed Ziploc bag and was left in the refrigerator for a day.

The actual cooking began the next day first with drying the marinated loin and browning all the sides with pork lard (this came as a candlewax-like block of fat) in the casserole. My initial thought about the lard was, “Wow, this is the ultimate saturated fatty sin!” But staying true to the MtAoFC recipe, all heart health-related reservations must be suppressed for the time being. Learning from my previous browning disaster, I limited the burning oil spillage with the heavy lid of the casserole and therefore the amount of cleaning required later. After this step, the loin was set aside and I browned some diced onion, carrots, and the herb bouquet (parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and fresh thyme). Next, I replaced the pork loin together with the vegetables and the whole casserole went into the preheated oven at 325 degrees for just under 2 hours.

While waiting during this time, I prepared some small potatoes and baby white onions (these are so delicious). The potatoes were boiled for a few minutes and then browned slightly in vegetable oil together with the peeled white onions. These were added into the casserole roughly halfway through the baking of the casserole. With a bulb baster, I also basted the loin with the cooking juices every half hour or so. The wonderful aroma from the contents every time I did this basting was irresistible! When the meat was done, I de-glazed the casserole with some white wine and brown stock to prepare a drizzling sauce. The whole cooking session was fairly straightforward and thankfully, I didn’t end up with a huge mess in the kitchen at all. To this end, I considered this to be a mini success.

But the proof of the roast had to be in the tasting. And my oh my…let’s just say there were no leftovers.

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