I love pork. To me personally, pigs are the lesser-appreciated gods. It breaks my heart that there are no feast days reserved to honour these truly noble beasts.
Roast pork is a busy person’s best friend. I would often cook a big roast on the weekend when I know I’m about to head to a busy work week and I need something that is both edible and versatile enough that the leftovers can be turned into a whole bunch of other meals that Al and I can both look forward to eating for the rest of the week. He’s a picky eater who isn’t overly fond of leftovers. Strangely enough, he makes a big batch of porridge, which he packages in little portions and eats them throughout the week. For the record, I hate porridge with unreserved passion. Anyway, I digress.
Everyone knows how to make a roast. For carnivores at least, it’s the first thing we learn to make when we move out of the college dorm and finally have a decent oven. When I buy a roast, I let the butcher do the trussing. I’m no iron chef. It’s better to leave that job to the professionals. Because I like my roast to be versatile enough to hold its own when I match it with other flavours, the trick is to buy a sizeable slab of ideally good quality meat, and not overload it with herbs and spices. I like my meat with a bit of fat. It’s just tastier. I season it with salt and pepper, nothing else and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight before roasting.
For the first meal when the roast is freshly cooked, we go old school and eat it with roasted potatoes with herbs and salad with apple and rhubarb compote on the side. The leftovers are then turned into a variety of dishes: taco filling, protein for otherwise boring salads, pulled pork barbecue style, and filling for sandwiches with every imaginable veggies, cheeses, sauces and dressings. With a bit of imagination, the results are never boring.
Roast Pork with Roast Potatoes
Ingredients for the roast pork:
- 5 lbs of trussed skinless pork belly
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of canola oil
Ingredients for the roast potatoes:
- 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, slice each into 8 wedges
- about a tablespoon or more of fresh rosemary and thyme
- 2 bayleaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and lightly smashed
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Cooking instructions for the roast pork:
- Pat the roast dry, season with salt and pepper and store in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the fridge at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.
- Heat up the roasting pan on your stovetop and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. The pan has to be really hot to sear all sides of the meat until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.
- Roast at 375 F for 1 hour.
- Increase oven temperature to 415 and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes.
- Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160F and the juices run clear.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Cooking instructions for the roast potatoes:
- In a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic cloves and herbs. Add the potatoes and toss ensuring that every piece is coated with the seasoning.
- Place the potatoes in the same roasting pan as the roast pork and cook at 415F for 30 to 45 minutes.
- If eating plain old roast pork is not overly appealing to you, you can serve it with chimichurri sauce which I make with chopped generous handfuls each of fresh Italian parsley and basil, about 2 tablespoons each of fresh oregano, rosemary, and thyme then about 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, juice and zest of one lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. You can spread this chimichurri sauce on crusty ciabatta bread, top it with a bit of mayo and mustard, then add thinly sliced roast pork, avocado, tomatoes, arugula or lettuce and shaved parmesan.
- Don’t trust my meat cooking time, follow the USDA pork cooking guidelines to ensure your roast is properly done.