Pork Roast with Boulangère Potatoes and Apple Sauce
Roasting pork, beef or chicken on a Sunday takes me back to my childhood. They were happy days. Mum worked full time and I was at boarding school, so going home every weekend was lovely as I used to look forward to our special Sunday meals, which were usually a roast. Dad’s preference was roast lamb, but nowadays any roast brings back those wonderful memories and lovely smells from our kitchen at home.
Back then as a child, special meals where celebrated with prime cuts of meat and only enjoyed on Sundays, Christmas Day and our birthdays; the rest of the time we used to enjoy less expensive meals. Those happy times made me appreciate the special celebrations and, most importantly, I developed a respect for prime cuts of meat. Nowadays, prime cuts are perhaps readily available to more people, and I sometimes wonder if the ‘specialness’ of them is somewhat lost?
Anyway, I had better get on and tell you about this delicious roast pork recipe and the wonderful pork reared here in Suffolk. We buy most of our pork from Mark Hayward of Dingley Dell fame, but Adrian Melrose from Rosery Farm should also get a mention here. Adrian rears free-range rare breeds of pork. We do not want to exhaust his herd and for that reason we only use Rosery Farm rare breed pork for special occasions such as Sunday roasts. Believe me, this meat is delicious and the colour is slightly darker than the commercially reared pork, which makes it look slightly ‘gamey’. The taste is exceptional, and with the slightly thicker layer of fat, it makes the best crackling in the world. We find the best way to make the perfect crackling is to salt the skin and let it sit at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking. The salt draws out the moisture and after a slow 3-hour cooking time, the results are just cracklingly good!
My delicious pork roast recipe is served with boulangère potatoes, which is not so traditional, but the reason for that is that it’s perfect when made a day in advance (so the cook is not trapped in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun), and it’s ideal for when the extended family comes to visit as it feeds many mouths with ease.
This recipe feeds a large group of people and it’s the perfect meal for up to 12 people.
For the boulangère potatoes
- 3 large onions, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 250ml white chicken stock
- 2.5kg Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into thin (2mm-thick) slices
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the pork roast
- 5kg pork loin, boned and rolled (ask your butcher to score the skin for you and tie the loin with butcher’s string)
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 large carrots, cut in half lengthways
- 2 sticks celery, cut in half lengthways
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
- 125ml dry white wine
- 500ml white chicken stock
For the apple sauce
- 6 large cooking apples (such as Bramley apples), peeled, quartered and cored
- 50g unsalted butter
First prepare the boulangère potatoes. I suggest you make these the day before you want to serve them. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 33 x 20 x 7cm deep ceramic dish (or roasting tin) with softened butter. Place the onions, garlic, butter and salt and pepper in a saucepan, then cover and sweat the onions over a low heat for about 20 minutes or until they are soft and transparent but not coloured. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a separate small saucepan. Add the hot chicken stock to the onions, then remove from the heat. Add the sliced potatoes and some more salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon the potato and onion mixture into the prepared dish and pour any liquid remaining in the pan over the top, then press the potato mixture firmly into the dish with your hands.
Cover the dish with non-stick baking paper and then foil and cook in the oven for about 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Use a knife to test and if the knife glides in and out with ease, then the potatoes are cooked. Remove from the oven and if you are using the dish the following day (I would recommend doing this), then leave to cool completely and refrigerate overnight (covered). If you are using it on the same day, then preheat the grill to high, remove the foil and paper and grill the top of the boulangère potatoes for about 10 minutes or until crisp and nicely browned. Keep an eye on it so that it does not burn. If you are making the boulangère potatoes a day in advance you will need to reheat them before serving (see Cook’s Note).
To roast the pork, remove the pork from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it, generously season the skin with salt, then leave it, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Place the prepared vegetables and garlic in a roasting tin and place the pork on top, skin-side up. Roast the pork in the oven for about 3 hours or until the meat is cooked and the crackling is golden brown and crispy.
While the pork is cooking, make the apple sauce. Cut the apples into even-sized pieces and place in a saucepan with the butter and salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely soft and form a rough purée. If you want a really smooth apple sauce, remove from the heat and blend until smooth, however, the apple sauce is equally delicious if left slightly chunky. The apple sauce can be served either hot or cold.
Remove the pork roast from the oven, then remove the pork from the tin, place it on a wire rack and leave to rest (uncovered) for 20 minutes while you make the gravy. Pour the wine into the roasting tin over the vegetables and let it bubble over a medium heat, stirring and scraping the base of the tin with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Add the stock, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass the gravy through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Gently reheat the gravy until hot, before serving.
To serve, reheat the boulangère potatoes if necessary (see Cook’s Note), making sure they are piping hot, then cut the boulangère potatoes into portions. Remove the crackling from the pork and break it into pieces. Carve the pork into slices and serve it with the crackling, boulangère potatoes, gravy and some seasonal vegetables, and don’t forget to serve the apple sauce alongside.
If you made the boulangère potatoes a day in advance, you will need to reheat them before serving. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Cover the dish with non-stick baking paper and foil, then reheat in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until piping hot. Remove the foil and paper and place under a hot grill for about 10 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.