Recently we’ve got into the habit of having a roast dinner most weekends. Sometimes at it’s most simple it’s just a basic roast chicken with greens and gravy, but often I take it as an opportunity to experiment and try out some new vegetable accompaniments to make things a bit more exciting. I also often use it to keep eating sensibly when I’ve got friends over: it’s one of those meals that’s naturally paleo apart from the potatoes, so it’s not difficult to adapt it to equally please a paleo and non-paleo crowd.
The other thing I love about a roast dinner is the leftovers. I usually choose a joint a bit bigger than I need just so I’ve got some cooked meat leftover, and I’ve put a few ideas as to what you could do with your leftovers at the bottom of this post.
Roast pork is one of my favourites. I tend not to cook pork very much apart from this, and the obvious sausage and bacon. Given the choice I’d usually choose lamb or beef for chops and steaks, and my go to meat for a simple dinner tends to be chicken. However roast pork has one clear advantage over any other kind of roast: crackling. I love it. Anyway, I’ve provided a guide below to cooking the full meal, and even a picture with everything labelled up so you know what to expect. However there’s no reason you can’t use these sides to go with something else!
You will need…
A pork joint big enough for everyone, plus a bit extra for leftovers.
For the gravy (double this if you’re feeding more than 3):
- 2 apples
- 1 red onion
- Liquid of choice – white wine, cider, apple juice, stock, water. About 150ml.
- Possibly a bit of lemon juice
For the mash:
- I usually allow 1/2 a celeriac per person, but it depends how big your celeriac is and how hungry you are. I often make double, and we’ll have sausages and mash a couple of days later.
- A decent sized knob of butter, or a dash of olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard per celeriac used
For the veg:
- 1-2 carrots per person
- Olive oil
- A sprig of thyme
- Some green veg if you fancy something extra
First put on your meat. I don’t do much in the way of prep apart from scoring and salting the skin to get good crackling. For a bit more info on that have a look at this guide from Delia, and for roasting times I tend to use this BBC calculator.
Sides and Accomps: The only tricky bit about cooking a roast and all the sides is timing – it can be a bit of a challenge to get everything ready for the table at the same time. For this reason I tend to start prepping as soon as the joint is in the oven so everything is chopped and ready to go when I need it. I’ve specified times in terms of your pork joint, and assumed that you’ll give it 15 minutes resting time and it’ll take you 5 minutes to carve.
Roasted Onion & Apple Gravy:
- Sort of gravy, sort of not gravy but I’m not really sure what else to call it. This adds some extra flavour to your meal and helps make the most of all the delicious juices and rendering fat coming out of your joint.
- Peel and slice your apples and onions, and at 40 minutes before your roast is due to come out, add to the roasting tray with your pork. You want to get as much of it as possible underneath the pork, so all the juices and fats mix with it. If it looks a bit dry, or there’s not much fat in there then drizzle some oil over any bits that aren’t covered by the joint – you don’t want it to burn. It also might be worth adding a slosh of your chosen liquid at this point if it looks like things might burn. Allow it to cook until you take out the meat.
- Remove the meat from the roasting tray and place elsewhere to rest. Add the rest of the liquid and heat gently on the hob whilst scraping any stuck bits of goodness from the bottom of the roasting tray and making sure all the apples and onions are nicely covered. Leave to reduce slightly for a few minutes. Give it a taste, and adjust for salt & pepper if necessary. You might also want to add a bit of lemon juice depending on the liquid you used: as both the celeriac and carrots are quite sweet this is a good place to add some acidity to balance the plate.
- A bit of a no brainer – peel and chop celeriac into 2-3cm cubes, put on to boil for about 20 minutes. I do this 15 minutes before the pork comes out, so it’s ready to mash while the joint is resting and the gravy is reducing.
- Drain, add butter/oil, salt & pepper and mustard. Mash with a potato masher or have a go with your stick blender. Taste, adjust for seasoning.
- Peel & cut the ends off all your carrots. Slice using a food processor or cheese grater until you have lots of thin (2-3mm) rounds – it doesn’t matter if some are broken up a bit.
- Take a suitably sized ovenproof dish and layer your sliced carrots inside. When you’ve finished, top with the thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil. Sometimes I do these as individual servings in small ramekins.
- Cover with foil (or a lid, if you have one!) and put in the oven with the pork about 45 minutes before the pork is due to come out.
When it’s time for the pork to come out, I usually turn off the oven but leave the carrots in. They’ll keep warm and carry on cooking a bit, and you can put your plates in to warm for the last 5 minutes of resting time as the oven will still be a reasonable temperature.
While the pork is resting, all you need to do is finish off the gravy, mash the celeriac and carve. If you want some extra green veg then put it on to steam when the joint comes out: you can even use the water in the gravy to add in a bit more flavour.
Leftovers: I tend to carve the whole joint at once to make life easier later. Often I find that if there’s not a huge amount left it miraculously disappears when left sliced in the fridge… but if you’ve got a bit more to deal with:
- Cut it into chunks and make a quick stew with some chorizo, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a few root veggies for bulk.
- Make into a quick salad with some cucumber, spring onion, peppers and a few toasted sesame seeds. Dress with a squeeze of lime and a few drops of sesame oil.
- Use as a topping for some Korean-style steamed eggs as demonstrated so well (as always!) by The Kitchn
- Adapt this recipe for Pork & Ginger Noodes with Broccoli by leaving out the noodles and chucking in some extra veg.
- Throw in an omelette with a handful of sliced mushrooms for a quick breakfast.