Pork Roast with Prunes
4 lb pork roast
1 1/2 lb of pitted prunes
2 large carrots
2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups of chicken stock
Pre-heat oven to 375
Using a long, sharp knife, slice the roast lengthwise, stopping a couple of inches short of cutting all the way through. (Or, ask your butcher to do this for you.)
Open the roast like a book. Salt and pepper generously. Starting 2 inches in, lay an overlapping row of prunes the length of the roast to within 2 inches of the other end. Close your meat book.
Cut 8 foot-long pieces of kitchen twine. Tie the roast together, first in the center, then at the ends. Finish tying until you have a tidy, compact roast. Dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy roasting pan on the top of the stove. Pour in about 4 tabelspoons of canola oil. When the oil is smoking brown the roast on all sides.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop carrots, onions and garlic cloves.
Take out the roast. Reduce the heat in the pan and saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent. Scatter a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a sprig of rosemary on top of the vegetables and lay the roast on top of that.
Place in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes or until the interior temperature registers 123 on an instant meat thermometer. Place on a warm serving platter and tent with foil.
Heat the roasting pan on top of the stove and de-glaze with 2 cups of chicken stock. Strain into a bowl.
Steep 2 teaspoons of black tea in 4 cups of boiling water. Strain out the tea. Add the remaining prunes to the pot and simmer gently for ten minutes until the prunes are soft and plump. Turn off the heat.
Skim off fat from the bowl of pan juices.
Heat 1/4 cup of vinegar and a 1/4 cup of sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Do not stir. Allow the mixture to turn a deep caramel color. (You have made a gastrique. Congratulations.)
Quickly, remove pan from the heat and pour in the pan juices. Be careful. It may splatter a bit.
Snip the strings from the pork. Cut into slices. Strain the prunes and arrange around the pork. Nap with the sauce.
Serve with mashed potatoes, puree of celery root or polenta.
Cellarwise wine pairing
Hearty fare like this calls for a velvety, fruit-driven well-structured red. The ’07 alexander valley vineyards cabernet sauvignon alexander valley “wetzel family estate” (calif, $14) adds a warm leathery tone to its currant and cherry flavors, finishing with a little tannin. The ’07 spindrift cellars pinot noir oregon “spinnaker” (oregon, $14) delivers rich raspberry and cola flavors showing a hint of chocolate. But the best match would be the ’06 betts and scholl grenache barossa valley “the o.g.” (aussie, $28), a little more money, but with exceptional red berry fruit and an earthy streak. White wine fans will want to pour a riesling, and the’07 betts and scholl riesling eden valley (aussie, $24) is spectacular with slate-like lime and persimmon flavors and a doughy richness. Enjoy.