From The Back Of My Pantry: Meat And Potatoes

23 Jan

Editor’s Note: Yep, we’re still taking a trip in the time machine and looking back at recipes from the early days of The Granny Cart. Sher wanted to know how the move‘s going. Sher: slowly. Ugh, so tiring, both physically and mentally.

We took a break between trips on Saturday and found an amazing, local Polish restaurant, Polonica, who’s clear borscht always has mushroom uszka, and might possibly be better than either Veselka’s or Polonia’s. I think 2007 is going to be the year The Great De-Beet goes Borough v. Borough, and Blogger v. Blogger!

The other reason to go to Polonica? The salads. Usually at most of these Polish restaurants you have to choose one or two salads to go with your entree. Say, Bigos with Red Cabbage and Beet Salads. Or Suffed Cabbage with Sauerkraut and Carrot Salads. But at Polonica? No choosing. You get ALL of them. Yep, all. And the best part? Every single one of them is fantastic.

So, even though the move continues to be a long slog, we’re eating our way through it. By this time next week, it’ll all be over. I cannot wait for next Tuesday!

Meat And Potatoes. Originally published March 7, 2006.


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.

Nigel Slater Appetite

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.

Nigel Slater Appetite

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.

Pork Loin

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!

Pork And Ugly Peas

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 now that you’ve see mine 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.

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


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.



Polonica Restaurant on Urbanspoon




7 Responses to “From The Back Of My Pantry: Meat And Potatoes”

  1. ulterior epicure January 23, 2007 at 11:03 am #

    I love goat milk dishes – and I love the name “Chartreuse Mash!” Have you thought about spiking it with just a touch of chartreuse liquor?? You know, mint and peas go very well together – and the hyssop in chartreuse has a bitter-minty flavor. Hrmm….

  2. Julie O'Hara January 23, 2007 at 2:26 pm #

    Agreed on Nigel Slater! I love his attitude about cooking. I like Julie Powell, but what the heck is a ‘yuppie hooligan?’

  3. Julie January 24, 2007 at 1:00 am #

    Moving is the pits! Keep your strength up with the borscht and I’m looking forward to hearing about your new neighborhood and more discoveries like the Polish restaurant.

  4. Denzylle January 24, 2007 at 6:05 am #

    Nigel Slater has been my number one cookery writer for about ten years now. I have all his books except the ‘Juice’ one.

    He only did TV for a couple of years, sadly. His presentation style was very similar to Nigella’s – sensual, lots of finger licking and suggestive language, but very subtly and beautifully done (and I think Nigel did that first, preceding Nigella to TV; not sure).

    But his books read in the same way. I can read them for hours, as well as use them in a practical way. Lovely food, lovely man.

  5. lobstersquad January 24, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    I looove Nigel. THe first time I saw appetite I curled up in a sofa and didn´t move for three solid hours. It´s great. Not to compare with Nigella, of course, but amazing all the same.

  6. Krista January 25, 2007 at 4:39 pm #

    As an aside, you can usually get pork belly in Asian grocery stores. It’s not as unmanageable as it sounds. Your wonderful pork roast just reminded me that I have some pork belly in the freezer…now I’m feeling inspired.

  7. ann January 29, 2007 at 3:21 pm #

    UE — that is SUCH a good idea!! I’ve been intrigued by the liquour chartreuse since reading roy andres de groot’s “recipes from the auberge of the flowering hearth”. Thanks for giving me a culinary reason for picking some up!!

    Julie O. — I haven’t a clue… it’s such a weird phrase, either he’s station wagon driving suburbanite nearing middle age OR he’s a shaved headed, doc martin wearing, chain smoking footie fan… not both!

    Julie — followed your instructions, worked like a charm!

    Denzylle — prefectly stated. coudln’t have said it better myself!

    Lobstersquad — I love Nigella’s sensuality, but Nigel’s just so chummy… and such a lovely writer… its a real toss up!

    Krista — that’s great to know!! thank you so much! never would have thought to look there… (seriously!)

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