Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pot roasted pork

Serves 4

There is simply nothing more satisfying, intensely flavoured and pure than good solid one pot cookery. We're all busier than ever, and it's the simple things in life like a complete meal in one dish that makes that precious time we seem to be spending in our kitchen all the more rewarding. Ask your butcher for a four-rib rack of free range pork, taken two ribs back from the best end, and please don't be put off by what seems like a lengthy method here, it's spread out over a couple of days and all make sense in the end.

1 4-rib rack of free range pork
1 large bunch thyme
200g salt
4 garlic cloves
A little more salt and some black pepper

For the cooking process
2 large onions
4 large carrots
3 leeks
1 celeriac or 4 parsnips
8 cloves garlic
100g unsalted butter
50ml groundnut oil
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch marjoram
100ml rich meat stock

For the glaze
3 egg yolks
2 tblsp honey
2 tblsp soy sauce

Two days in advance, chop the thyme leaves; mix them with the salt and reserve. Peel the cloves of garlic and cut into slices, making sure you have at least 18 of them.

Put some salt and freshly ground pepper in a small ramekin — about 1 tsp of salt to a ¼ tsp of pepper — and drop the garlic slices in. Mix well, then reserve.

Next, turn the pork upside down, so you are looking at the flat, bony side and make 9 incisions, each 1.5cm deep. Push one garlic slice into each incision. Turn the rack so that you are looking down on the ribs and again make incisions in between each rib. Stuff these as before.

Lay out some cling film, enough to wrap around the pork twice. Cover an area the same size as the meat with half the herbed salt. Place the pork skin side down on the salt, cover all the sides, except for the exposed meat ends, with the rest of the salt and carefully wrap the joint twice in the cling film. Leave the meat to cure in the fridge for two days. After this, thoroughly wash off the salt and pat dry the meat.

On the day of cooking, preheat the oven to 170c/gas mark 3. Peel and roughly chop the onion, leek, celeriac or parsnips and carrot, just peel the garlic. In a lidded casserole large enough to fit the joint, melt the butter and oil over a moderate heat, add the pork and lightly brown on all sides.

Remove the pork and colour the vegetables, returning the pork on top, skin side down. Rip and add the herbs, put the lid on and place in the oven for 25 minutes while whisking together the glaze ingredients and setting aside.

Remove the pot from the oven, take out the pork and put on a board, turning the oven up to 220c/gas mark 7. Carefully remove the skin from the pork, leaving as much fat as possible on the meat.

Return the pot to a moderate heat and allow the vegetables to caramelise to golden brown, pour out any excess fat and add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain this reduction into a smaller pan, removing the vegetables to serve with the meat.

Brush the pork fat with the glaze and return to the hot oven for about 10 minutes until nicely caramelised. Put the skin in the oven for crackling.

When ready to serve, remove the pork from the oven and put on a board. Cut down and across against the contour of the bone to leave just the joint of meat. Collect any juices that may have come out of the meat and add to the sauce, carving the meat into nice thick slices, and serve with the caramelised vegetables.