The Sunday pork roast. Few phrases in our language so perfectly conjure up such deeply satisfying visions of family, friends, and comfort on a cold winter eve. Of the many variations on the humble roasted meal one can dream up, a simple slab of swine is to me the finest thing. So much so that I barely do anything to adjust the flavouring in fear that any additions I could possibly make, would only serve to take away from that pure porky flavour.
Due to our largely English heritage where I grew up, a roast meal was am important event in the family calendar as a child. The bitter teeth of winter fended off by our old Kent fire place, while us kids prayed to the eternal cathode ray baby sitter, desperately trying to ignore the delicious aromas wafting in from the family kitchen. Strong is the pull of temptation in a young hungry child, but stronger still is a mother’s backhand if you make a nuisance of yourself pre-dinnertime.
As we grew older, naturally we left the nest and roosted in our various shanty castles and shit-hole homes of early shared housing. Surprisingly even to us we occasionally grew tired of living on McDonalds and beer, and craved the simple comforts of home. But as we were all more focussed on our newly found freedoms (and partying) than our careers in those early days, we naturally all had pretty shitty jobs. Thus, none of us could afford the luxury of fresh vegetables, let alone a rather large chunk of animal to cook, and so we came to a point where we all scraped our pennies on Sunday arvo and pitched in to buy ourselves a communal meal. These banquets with my newly adopted family, more than anything, allowed me to endure the slings and arrows of these early years away from the family home and even though it may have taken me a bit longer to get around to deciding to be an “adult”, I emerged a more well rounded, empathetic human due to the close personal bonds forged over these sumptuous feasts.
As more years rolled past and careers began to occupy the spaces formerly relegated to socializing; former friends forever, and those you once deemed indispensable in your daily life begin to drop off to miserably little consequence. Alarmed by the rate at which the years and great friends were disappearing I took it upon myself to elevate our casual piss drinking get-togethers to include a communal meal. As my job for many years by this point was in fact cooking, it served as effective motivation to get people to go out and congregate on Sunday afternoons, which were of course my only day off during the weekend. In essence we began to bribe people with food so that they would actually come visit us.
These Sunday sessions still consisted of consuming large quantities of alcohol, but we figured out quickly that if we got people to show up at around 2pm, we drink excessively, feed everyone by 6 (sometimes later if I had pushed the boat out too far……) and being fed a bit boozed we could get everyone out of our house by around 9pm and still get a great nights sleep. These sessions became known as the Sunday Asylums. And before long it caught on. Regular attendees at the Sunday Asylums began to have small gatherings at their homes and it worked out that we would alternate who would host and cook and the others would contribute dessert or snacks. So without putting a elderly label on it, a series of pot luck dinners became, for a while, a weekly and much anticipated event. And so the family roast lived on in a new form, in a new kind of family.
Since moving to Australia, and becoming almost totally consumed by my career and new surrounds, the Sunday Asylum dropped off for a while, and became a feature that I felt was sorely lacking in my personal life. So with the arrival of my first Melbourne summer I felt the time was right to reintroduce the family feast to the now heavily reduced circle of friends we had in this city. Gone was the lingering burden of homesickness that had threatened to drag me into the pit of despair only weeks before. In a single evening we were home.
This particular pork roast followed a splendid Sunday session where we turned the whole living room into a giant couch with the aid of an air mattress and half a dozen pillows. We then invited some good mates around and embarked on an epic 10 hour binge on the latest season of Game Of Thrones. After all the crisps, chocolate and a great batch of breakfast burritos whipped up by my very talented partner, it’s a wonder we could even stomach a roast meal. Strong is the pull of pork!
Roasted Pork Leg
- 1 boned pork leg segment (roughly 1.2kg)
- 2 onions peeled retaining the core and quartered
- half a bulb of garlic broken into cloves with the skin left on
- 2 Tblsp of butter,
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
Preheat your oven to 180°c. Score the skins of the pork with a sharp knife, this allows the fat to render out of the skin during cooking and give you superior crackling. We all know that crackling is the most important part of a pork roast, and that is what makes pork the king of roasts in my mind. Heat a generous amount of oil in a large fry pan and bring to a medium heat. Use a paper towel to dry the skin of the pork thoroughly and sprinkle salt on it. Put the pork into the pan skin side down and firmly press the pork down so that all of the skin browns evenly. Continue this until the skin is golden brown all over and hard to the touch. Be careful not to burn the skin as burnt pork skin tastes like shit! If it is blackening on one side but not crisp on the other, shift the weight of your downward pressure to focus on the parts that are lagging. Once you have a nice crispy skin season the other side of the roast and turn it to brown on all sides. Once browned all over, transfer to a large roasting pan. Drop your onions and garlic into the pan along with the butter and herbs. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil and bung that bitch in the oven for roughly 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 65°c. Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to rest, if the veg requires longer (is not soft), pour off the roasting juices into a bowl and reserve them for gravy. return the undercooked veg to the oven. Allow the pork to rest for at least 20 min before carving, add the resting juices to your roasting juice bowl, that shit is precious!
Herb Roasted Potatoes
- 4 large starchy potatoes (we used Dutch cream for our roast)
Herb flour mix
- ½ cup of plain flour
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 Tblsp powdered chicken stock
- ½ tsp salt
- A few turns of the pepper grinder
Preheat a flat baking tray in the oven. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and then cut into even chunks of your desired size. Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with hot water from the tap and add 2tsp of salt. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for roughly 5 min. Once the potatoes are cooked but still hold their shape (like potato salad potatoes) drain off the hot water and refresh your potatoes with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cool coat the potatoes in oil and then toss them through the flour until coated evenly. oil your hot tray and then dump your spuds onto it. Drizzle oil over the potatoes and then after a good shake to loosen anything that has stuck, biff it in the oven until gold and super crispy, roughly 1 ½ hours, turning every 30mins or so.
- 300g Brussel sprouts cleaned and quartered
- ½ an onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and finely sliced
- 2 cm of ginger peeled and finely sliced
- 3 Chinese sausages, lup cheong (bacon will do fine)
- 4 shiitake mushrooms finely sliced
- 2 Tblsp of soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Heat a large fry pan (I of course used a wok!) with a generous amount of oil to a light smoke. Throw in the brussel sprouts, lup cheong and the onion and sauté until the sprouts are starting to colour. Add the garlic, ginger and mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes more and then hit it with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Continue to cook until mostly dry and serve immediately.
- Reserved pork juices
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 OXO, powdered beef stock cube (around 1 tsp)
- A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A roast wouldn’t be a roast without a hearty meat juice sauce; I would even argue that half the point of a roast is the gravy! Pour the reserved pork juices into a pot and bring to the boil. Add the cream and return to the boil, then crumble the beef stock into the mix and whisk to incorporate. Boil until the cream has reduced and you have a nice thick consistency. add your Worcestershire sauce and mustard, then adjust the seasoning to suit your tastes. Here’s a weird hint: add a pinch of sugar to your gravy as well as salt to really lift the sauce to the next level. Trust me its amazing, as long as you don’t add too much, no one wants sweet pork sauce…
Remove the crackling from the meat and season the fatty side with a little salt. Cut into bite sized pieces and set aside. With a sharp knife carve the pork across the grain into slightly thick slabs and lay out on your plates. This is a roast people, slap everything on the plate and cover it all in that glorious gravy and dip that crispy pork skin into the whole mess. Bon appetite!
This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Chrystal at The Smallwood Parsonage.