Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fennel and Garlic Pork Roast

You know I didn't make this meal thinking, "This would be the perfect thing to blog about the week of Easter." But this would be the perfect thing to blog about the week of Easter.

It comes with a confession (don't half these posts come with a confession). I made it in the oven as a "real" roast, but next time I do it, it will be in the crock pot as an, um, "fake?" roast. It's not that it was that fussy or anything to do it in the oven. It's just that it had to be started 3 (plus a little) hours before dinner was to be served, and 2:00 in the afternoon is a really lousy time for me to be starting dinner (that last piece of quiet time before my school kids get home). And then you have to stay home in the hours in between. A crock pot meal could be done in the morning (when I have more time and energy), left to its own devices, and then ta-da there it is when 5:00 rolls around and everyone's starving and the kids are beginning to scour the cupboards (and/or floor) for junky foods because they are huuun-gry. Also, I think that crock pot and old school methods would yield a roast comparable (with this particular roast anyway) in taste and awesome-ly moist-ness.

And this was awesome-ly moist. Kip said so a couple of times and he is a not a super huge fan of pork roasts (though he won't turn one down). He also asked a couple of times what those weird seed things were on the outside. Fennel. They are fennel seeds. And while I like fennel and I really like the way fennel smells while things are cooking, I think you could skip the fennel seeds if you don't have them or don't like them.

You can serve this with gravy or with this really tasty mustard sauce.

Fennel and Garlic Pork Roast
adapted from Everyday Food
Serves 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Rest time: 15 minutes
For crock pot, cook time: 6-8 hours
Cost: $9-10
Roast: 9.00, seasonings: .10

1 boneless pork shoulder, 3-4 lb (ours had the bone, which did make cutting it tricky, but also left me with a bone for soup later)
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (or half that dry)
2 Tbsp fennel seed (you can skip if you'd like)
salt and pepper

For gravy:
1 Tbsp flour
1-2 C chicken stock

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly oil a heavy-bottomed roasting pan (I used a Dutch oven).

Combine olive oil fennel, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. The original recipe said to put it in a food processor, but it's so very little that I couldn't get this to work.

I had mine in a small blender and the blades would just pass right over everything. So, instead I took out my most fearsome chopping knife (and I do have some fearsome knives), and chopped it into a fairly pulpy little pile of seasonings.

Score the pork with 1/2 inch cuts and then rub your pulpy seasonings all over that baby.

Put it in the pan and put the pan in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 450.

Then, without opening the oven, reduce heat to 300 and roast until it reaches about 170 degrees in the deepest point. (We got ours near 180 and it was still super moist.) This will take 2-2 1/2 hours.

Transfer to a plate, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

To make gravy, drain off some of the fat (usually I don't insist on this, but our roast left a LOT of fat). Add the flour to your drippings and mix until pasty-ish. Then add 1 C of the chicken stock and whisk. Allow to thicken. Use more chicken stock to thin the gravy if it's not thin enough for your tastes.

Or make this mustard sauce. Yum. We did both (gravy the first night and mustard sauce for leftovers). Both were very very good.

Crock Pot Instructions: Follow seasoning directions above. Instead of the oven, put roast in crock pot on high. Cook for 6-8 hours or until internal temp is 170 degrees.


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