Meat And Potatoes

7 Mar

In Sunday’s New York Times, Julie Powell asks, are Americans ready for Nigel Slater? And I say to her, “Honey, I’ve been ready for him for years!” She calls him “a yuppie hooligan”. Maybe he is, but that’s never how I imagined him.

Who is Nigel Slater then? To me, he’s the thinking woman’s Naked Chef, he’s the slightly more grizzled (and male) Nigella Lawson. He’s the guy constantly sitting on my shoulder while I’m cooking, saying, “calm down, it’s just cooking!”

I’ve never seen his shows, and I really don’t know anything about him that I didn’t learn from the only book of his I own, Appetite, but I love what he says in it.

This is the ultimate first cookbook. He talks about how to build a kitchen, how to stock a pantry, and how to cook for only you, or a party of 50. His recipes are barely recipes; they’re more like guidelines, a list of things to put together, and then yeah, you go ahead and riff on that. It’s an approach I not only appreciate, but also whole heartedly endorse.

So, in honor of Nigel’s shout-out in the Gray Lady, I cobbled together an entrèe from one of his recipes entitled “A Pork Roast”. The recipe is supposed to be made with fresh pork belly with the skin on. Now, I know I live in one of the most foodie friendly cities in the world, and I consider myself a pretty savvy food shopper, but I had A) no idea where to get pork belly, and B) truly no desire to tackle this cut of meat myself. This is why god invented Alias and Uovo.

I also chose to “follow” his advice and use his garlic and rosemary variation. Oh, and I decided to braise the pork, rather than roast it, and to use a loin instead of a belly, and to braise in verjus rather than white wine, but hey, this is a Nigel recipe, which means, as long as it tastes good in the end, then all is well!

I served the pork with what can only be fairly called Chartreuse Mash. It was a goaty riff on Smashed Potatoes And Peas from this months Gourmet. I couldn’t figure out why there was no picture of this slightly flawed recipe, and once you see mine (below the break) you’ll understand why… this is one ugly dish, but oh. my. god. is it GOOD. Make it, now. You’ll thank me for it!

head below the break for the detailed recipes (and one ugly picture!)

Rosemary & Garlic Pork Braised In Verjus

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 2 hours

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs Pork Loin (try and get an heirloom or organic variety, they have better marbling and well, taste better!)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. dried, powdered Rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. Tomato Powder (I got mine at the O&Co. post-holiday sale. It came in little sachets, but the last time I went in, they were saying it comes now in a tin. They don’t sell it on their website, so if you don’t have this, it’s okay)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 cup Verjus
  • 1 tbsp. Mushroom Ketchup
  • 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary

Pre-heat oven to 300-325 degrees (depends on how reliable your oven is!)

Make a paste of the olive oil, rosemary, tomato powder and salt & pepper (to taste). Massage this mixture all over your pork and let sit.

Place a flame top, oven proof dutch oven over low flame with a healthy glug of olive oil. Brown the pork on all sides. Once brown, turn the flame off and place the pork on a plate to rest. Add more olive oil to the dutch oven, then the garlic. Turn the flame back on to medium-low and allow the garlic to soften a bit. Add the verjus, Mushroom Ketchup and rosemary sprigs to the dutch oven. Allow to blend for a minute or two, then add the pork back to the pot.

Spoon a little of the liquid over the pork, put the top on and pop it in the oven!

Just let it go, if you want, check on it every now and then. About half way through the braising, I began to smell too much rosemary, so I pulled it out of the oven and removed the rosemary. I think it saved the gravy from becoming too soapy tasting.

After 1 1/2 to 2 hours cooking, pull the pork out of the oven, and the dutch oven to boot. Place on a plate and cover. Place the dutch oven over medium-high flame and remove all hard matter (garlic cloves, rosemary needles, etc.). Add another glug of Mushroom Ketchup if the jus tastes like it needs a bit more salty and savory flavors. Allow to cook until desired texture is achieved.

Slice the pork, serve with jus and Chartreuse Mash.

Chartreuse Mash

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: at least 30 minutes

  • 1 1/2 lbs small, red Creamer Potatoes, quartered
  • 4 cloves Garlic, quartered
  • 1 1/4 cups Goat Milk
  • 14-16 ozs. frozen Peas (I used whatever was left in my freezer, which I know was more than 10 ozs, but I’m not exactly sure how much. In my judgment, the more the better!)
  • 2 tbsp Goat Butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste mash

Boil the potatoes and garlic in the milk, at least 20 minutes, probably longer. Try not to let the milk boil, but if it does, no worries.

Once the potatoes are almost fork tender, add the peas. Bring to a simmer again and cook until the peas are warm and the potatoes are fork tender. Add the butter, cover and allow to melt.
I didn’t have a masher, or even a big spoon, so I just stuck my immersion blender in the pot and very, veeeery gently pureed the whole shebang. Make sure to leave some peas whole, and the whole thing should be a little chunky. Adjust the seasoning, and if you feel it’s too thick add more milk or heck, go ahead and add more butter!

This is literally so good with the goat’s milk. If you can find it (and you like goat’s milk cheese) give this version a go. It’s earthy, herby and faintly sweet.



One Response to “Meat And Potatoes”

  1. sher January 23, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Oh yum!!!!! Is that a little drool coming down my chin??

    The move will be over soon! Courage! And keep treating yourself to some nice meals at those great spots you have to eat in your area.

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