Wednesday, 28 August 2013

10 Minute Roast Pork

...With roasted potatoes, caramelised onions, and delicious gravy.

In today's day, where there are often two working parents (or one working single parent), busy schedules and an abandonment of the philosophy that someone should be at home to take care of things, it's no wonder our grocery store shelves are stocked with ready made and heavily processed products.

People used to eat everything from scratch, at home, prepared by a family member. I know, crazy right?  But with the dawn of the dual working parent age, when moms were no longer content to stay home all day, came a profitable new business for those willing to sacrifice quality and nutrition. I like to refer to this stage as the TV dinner generation. Double the income, women gaining equal rights and not having their lives predetermined for them, able to enter into once male dominated territory, and then come home to a nice steaming hot Salisbury steak that's ready twenty minutes after walking through the door, sounds great! Unfortunately though, it came at a cost, our health

Now I'm not going to tell you about the nutritional content or the level of processing that goes into one of these things, you already know that. I am also not going to tell you about the down right awful food that comes out of a drive through window, because you know that too. I am not even going to tell you that all those so called "healthy options" in the freezer isle are only slightly healthier than their predecessors and only when considering certain things like added sodium or fat. I will however, tell you that you are not forced into eating like this just because we now live in an age where you need two incomes just to make ends-meat.

People think there are no other options when you work all day, get home at 5:30, and the kids will be looking for dinner at six. You need to do a bit of pre-planning, but your body and your wallet will thank you for the "real food diet".

Now this roast pork obviously didn't cook in ten minutes, but I truly only spent about ten minutes of any hands on prep and you can have it on the table in about twenty minutes after getting home from your day.

Roast Pork and Potatoes:
medium sized pork loin, thawed
1 large onion
2-3 bay leaves
1 carton chicken stock (whichever brand you like, or homemade)
small palmful of whole peppercorns
a few sprigs of thyme (or about a tsp dry thyme)
10-15 new potatoes

Special Equipment: Crock pot (don't have one? get one. doesn't need to be fancy, but if you want food ready when you get home, there is no better tool)

  • Peel and quarter the onion. This should take about 15 seconds, then wash and halve the potatoes, unless they're mini new potatoes and you can leave them whole, but double the amount. I do this with a paring knife so I don't have to wash a cutting board. (If you can't do this without cutting your fingers off, then don't, the price of a finger is too high for one unwashed cutting board)

  • Next, dump everything into the crock pot, pop the lid on and set it at medium for six plus hours, or high for four to six hours, choose what suits your needs best. 

  • Go to work (or shopping, or protesting for green peace, or whatever you do with your day)

When you get home, your roast will be tender, and the potatoes will be cooked. They will also be in need of some love. I don't think you can just pop something into liquid and then take it back out and serve it. It must be the restaurant chef in me, I can't serve blasé food, not even to toddlers.

  • Turn your oven up to 500° F And let it preheat while you line a baking pan with parchment, scoop out your potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon, and pop them and the roast onto the pan. liberally season roast (both sides please) and potatoes with salt and pepper, and pop into the oven. Cook for about twenty minutes, turning the meat over once and tossing the potatoes around a bit at the same time. The potatoes should start to get a bit of a coating from the fat rendering from the pork, this will help them brown. 
  • When you first put the pan into the oven, strain the juice from the crock pot. I like to do this into a juice jug, this way it all fits and if I have any left over I can put the lid on and leave it in the fridge for later use.

  • In a pot on the stove top, cook about 2 TBSP Ghee with about 2 TBSP rice flour on med-high for about two minutes after it starts to bubble, whisking constantly. Slowly pour about half of the cooking liquid into the pot while continuing to whisk. Let this come up to a gentle boil, and if it is too thick, add a bit more liquid. Continue to do this until desired consistency is achieved. You can make the gravy as thin or thick as you like. make sure you whisk the entire time, and that you bring the mixture back up to a boil to achieve full thickening power of the flour. Once desired thickness is achieved, simmer gravy for about ten minutes, or until any residual texture from the rice flour is gone. It should be perfectly smooth. Remove from heat.

  • After Your gravy is thick, taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that gravy should be just a touch salty to taste, as it is the seasoning for the roast (remember you can only season the outside of the meat). 

By the time your gravy is cooked, your potatoes and meat will be nicely browned, and your onions will be beautifully caramelized. turn off oven, and transfer roast to cutting board to rest.
In the meantime, set place settings and scoop potatoes into serving dish or directly onto plates. Pour gravy into serving dish as well, at my house that's a fancy dancy measuring cup ;)
Lastly slice the meat fairly thin and serve.

***To store any leftovers, put potatoes and pork into an airtight container and pour remaining gravy over top. This way when you warm it back up it will still be moist.