Roasted meats – the essential comfort food. Normally, when “pot roast” comes up, images are conjured of lightly seasoned beef, with some root vegetables, somewhere between cooked deliciously and dry-and-leathery. It’s such a simple food, it’s often overlooked as being too basic, too familiar, too trite to remain part of the home cook’s zeitgeist. (How many food blogs do you see writing about roasted meats?)
However, likely since humans first put beasts on a spit over fire, we’ve had roast meats. While these can be aggressively flavorful, today’s roast is lighter, more delicate, and much more mellow. The French call it rôti de porc au lait – roast pork in milk. Take a pork loin roast – a lighter, mild cut – sear it on all sides, then “roast” (braise, really) in a milk sauce with leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and a bit of garlic and herbs. None of those are really stand-out, punch-you-in-the-gut assertive flavors; the onions and garlic develop a sweetness from long cooking rather than their sharpness in, say, a sauté.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- The ingredients from the book
- Plus whatever I think I adapted.
How it works: Sear the pork roast on all sides, in a bit of oil, over high heat. Set aside on a plate. Either discard and replace the remaining oil or not, as needed, and throw in the vegetables to siften. Cook them until soft/translucent, then add flour. Slowly pour over hot milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps, and bring to a boil. Return the pork to the pot, cover, and cook over very low heat (turning occasionally to keep the meat moist and stirring to prevent scorching) until the pork is done. Set aside the pork to rest, strain the sauce, and serve.
Interlude: While the pork cooked, I ducked into the guest bathroom to show the cook “in action”. I stepped out to turn the meat, forgot to close the door, and came back to find this (the other two were in the windowsill).
Here, I’ve got sides of roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed zucchini, as well as a green pea purée. Comfort foods all around, as spring starts to make its way through the grey of winter.
Briefly: Peel the sweet potato, cut into thick wheels, lightly coat with oil and throw into a 425F oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through, or until nicely browned on both sides. Peel and cut the zucchini into sticks, heat a skillet over high heat, add a bit of oil and when hot sauté the zucchini until lightly browned and done. Remove to a paper towel, add a pinch of salt to taste. Heat a can (drained, rinsed) of peas, or a cup of frozen peas, in boiling water until warm. Drain, and using a stick blender, purée with a little onion, a little butter, salt, pepper, and maybe some herbs as you like.