Wednesday, January 23, 2013

America's Test Kitchen Pork Roast

It's been years and years since I've made a pot roast.  I always used to just stick the roast in one of those bags that come with seasonings in them.  I thought they tasted pretty good.  At least I thought so until I made this Roast with Peach Sauce from America's Test Kitchen.  There is absolutely no comparison.

This particular recipe uses a specific cut of meat called pork butt or Boston butt/shoulder.  Don't try to get all crazy and use something else.  America's Test Kitchen did all sorts of variations and the pork butt will result in the most tender meat when cooked low and slow.
 I know. I know.  The roast looks like it's burnt.  That's just the poor lighting in my kitchen.  The part that looks blackened is actually the caramelized cracklins.  I'm not usually one for gnawing on fat, but the fatty part of this roast was heavenly.  Crispity crunchy pieces of heaven.  Blockette didn't want to try any at first.  Then she saw the look on my face after I had a bite.  You know the one, where your eyes roll back in your skull.   Yeah, she changed her mind real quick.  Then she couldn't get enough of the tasty caramelized fat.

This roast was only about 4 lbs.  That was about half the size of the roast called for in the recipe.  I assumed that it would take less time to cook.  It didn't for some reason.  This roast took about 5 hours for the internal temperature to register 190F.

Those of you that cook a lot of pork are probably saying, why 190F?  The USDA says you only need to cook pork to 145F.  Well, that's true, but with this cut of meat, if you cook the roast slowly, the connective tissues won't break down until 190F.  Attempting to speed things up by upping the temp on your oven will only result in a hard dry brick of a roast....and sadness.

You will not believe how tender this roast is.  Man!  See how the bone is sticking out?  The roast practically fell apart when I removed it from the pan.  All I had to do was wiggle the bone the tiniest bit to remove it.  This was great because I had no idea how I was going to carve around that peculiarly shaped shoulder bone.

Blockette did not care for the sauce at all.  Who knows why, cause it was divine.  The sweet-tart flavors pared nicely with the salty savory meat.  I liked the sauce so much, I ate it on mashed potatoes, and even on toast one morning.

There was a considerable amount of drippings remaining after preparing the peach sauce.  I didn't want to waste it so I made crock pot lentil soup, replacing part of the stock called for in the recipe for the defatted jus. I don't know how, but the jus gave the soup an almost beef-y taste.  (How does that work if the jus was from pork???) I'll be saving the jus from roasts to use in lentil soup again for sure.

Pork Roast from America's Test Kitchen
1 bone-in pork butt, 6 to 8 pounds
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Ground black pepper

Peach Sauce
10 ounces frozen peaches, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups) or 2 fresh peaches, cut in 1/2" wedges (I used frozen)
2 cups dry white wine (I used Arbor Mist Peach Chardonnay)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1. FOR THE ROAST: Using sharp knife, cut slits 1 inch apart in crosshatch pattern in fat cap of roast, being careful not to cut into meat. Combine salt and brown sugar in medium bowl. Rub salt mixture over entire pork shoulder and into slits. Wrap roast tightly in double layer of plastic wrap, place on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Unwrap roast and brush off any excess salt mixture from surface. Season roast with pepper. Transfer roast to V-rack coated with nonstick cooking spray set in large roasting pan and add 1 quart water to roasting pan. (I didn't have a v-rack that fit into my smaller roasting pan so i made a large ring out of foil so the meat would be up off the bottom of the pan.  This worked really well for me.)

3. Cook roast, basting twice during cooking, until meat is extremely tender and instant-read thermometer inserted into roast near but not touching bone registers 190 degrees, 5 to 6 hours. Transfer roast to carving board and let rest, loosely tented with foil, 1 hour. Transfer liquid in roasting pan to fat separator and let stand 5 minutes. Pour off ¼ cup jus; discard fat and reserve remaining jus for another use.

4. FOR THE SAUCE: Bring peaches, wine, granulated sugar, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup defatted jus, and thyme to simmer in small saucepan; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon vinegar and mustard. Remove thyme, cover, and keep warm.

5. Using sharp paring knife, cut around inverted T-shaped bone until it can be pulled free from roast (use clean kitchen towel to grasp bone). Using serrated knife, slice roast. Serve, passing sauce separately.

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