Pork – It’s what for dinner – Oh and beets, goat cheese and potatoes

So here is dinner and I gotta say it is a keeper! The salad was just so darn good we both had 2 helpings.

First I must point out there is nothing more beautiful in color and texture than a roasted beet. It is a fuchsia to beat all fuchsias. And the wonderful aroma as you peel the skins back is this true ‘from the earth’ smell that just reaches into your heart and says you will love me. I inspire the passion in your soul.

Between the nice peppery bite of the arugula, the earthy flavors of the roast beets and the creaminess of the goat cheese all brought together with the sweet and tangy balsamic glaze and a toasted crunch of almonds we knew it was a dish we were hooked on.

All the flavors of tang, bitter, tart, creaminess and earthiness are in this dish.

All the flavors of tang, bitter, tart, creaminess and earthiness are in this dish.

Main dish was Italian Porchetta (Porketta in english) which is a pork roast heavily seasoned with fennel, garlic, oregano, paprika and rosemary. It is seasoned on the morning of the first day and cooked on the second. It makes a crust that is just decadent with rendered pork fat and seasonings that you cannot resist the impulse to keep picking pieces and quickly popping them into your mouth where you close your eyes and think ‘man this is so good…’ The pork was so darn tender and moist it could not have been more perfect. Made a quick sauce for the for the pork out of the pan drippings, white wine and chicken stock.

Italian Porketta and Potato Parmesan Crisps

The side dish was parmesan potato crisps. While I wish I had, had a more waxy potato like a yukon gold or red potato I had to make do with what I had, russets. So I par boiled them to help remove some of the starchiness. These were simply seasoned with S&P, dried thyme and parmesan.

Making a dish where every component comes together is wonderful, and having the flavors make you come back for seconds – priceless.

Roasted Beet Salad –

8 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup good olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces baby arugula and spinach mix

1/3 cup toasted almond slivers

4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. You can peel the beets by hand after about 10-15 minutes

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with half of the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), Taste for seasonings and add more S&P if needed.

Place the salad mixture in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the mixture on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, almonds, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Italian Porchetta (Porketta)

2 Tablespoons fennel seeds

1 Tablespoon course kosher salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 teaspon dried crushed red pepper

2 Tablespoons sweet paprika (I know it’s more hungarian, but it really works here)

1 5-6lb boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed with a thin layer left intact. (Truth be told if you can only find one with bone-in, get it, it will be just fine!)

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing

Stir fennel seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant about 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to spice mill and cool. Add kosher salt, peppercorns, and dried crushed red pepper and paprika. Grind to medium-fine consistency (not powder).

Place pork in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Rub garlic all over pork, then coat with spice mixture. Loosely cover pork with waxed paper or foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Place roast, fat side up and coating intact, in center of sheet. Drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast pork 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 190°F, about 3 hours 30 minutes longer. Transfer pork to cutting board, cover with foil and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

For my sauce I took the pan juices and poured them into a sauce pan (about 2-3 tablespoons of the pork fat) I added 1/2 white wine and let that simmer until the wine was just about evaporated. To that I added one slightly rounded tablespoon of flour and whisked it in for about 2 -3 minutes. Then 1 cup of chicken stock was whisked in and heated thru and cooked until slightly thickened. This is not a gravy.


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