Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sunday Dinner Volume II

Now that the colder weather is steadily becoming more frequent, I start whipping out Sunday dinner type meals more often. When it's in the 30s outside with the sun 'taking a nap' as my daughter likes to put it, there is nothing more comforting than having a pork roast slowly roasting in the oven, with a couple of pots on the stove top simmering away. 

The main reason I had to come up with a good old fashioned family dinner was because I had a yen for dauphinoise potatoes. Not a dish that cozies up quite the same to a ham sandwich (well, maybe when eaten cold the following day- very good, by the way) or a bowl of chili. I love chicken with this, but wanted to use a pork roast so I could have plenty of left overs to go with some super yummy ramen broth I'd been saving in the freezer. Which is why I kept the seasoning of the roast itself pretty simple, and chose the 'wow' factor to come from the groan inducing sherry cream sauce. This sauce is so good, if I could get away with it I'd make extra and serve it in little demitasse cups along the side. Good gravies and sauces are so well loved on my side of the family, that we don't think it is wrong in any way to straight up imbibe them. 

All of these recipes are very simple and can be made with complete ease as long as you have enough time. That is the beauty of a good Sunday dinner - a tiny bit of prep, and then relax on the couch while you enjoy all the luxuriant smells coming out of the kitchen. And, the leftovers. So good, and so many things you can do with them. For example, eating the dauphinoise potatoes cold, straight from the fridge. 
There are lots of dauphinoise potato recipes out there, but my favorite is Jacque Pépin's simple tried and true version. No cheese here folks, and you will not miss it. Not even a little. The aromas that flood your home as these bake in the oven are divine, and my daughter who is a devout potato hater, (even french fries sometimes) gobbled these up without a trace of encouragement. 

INGREDIENTS

for the brined pork roast and sherry cream sauce

1 2 - 3 lb boneless pork loin roast, any silver skin removed
2 quarts cold water
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
12 - 15 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup table salt or ~1/2 cup kosher, depending on brand
1 Tbsp canola oil

1/3 cup dry sherry
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup whole milk, or 3/4 cup half and half
1 - 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the pork roast in a large pot with a lid. Mix well with a wooden spoon till all the sugar and salt is dissolved. Add the roast, cover, and place in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of your roast. 

Preheat oven to 375*. Remove roast from the brine and thoroughly dry it off with paper towel. Add the canola oil to an oven safe pan and place over medium high heat. Sear all sides of the roast to golden brown. Place in the oven and roast till internal temp reaches 135*, about 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on size of roast.

Remove from oven and let rest on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes before slicing. 

Meanwhile, place the pan that the pork cooked in back over medium low heat. Add a touch of canola oil and the shallot. Saute for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. De-glaze the pan with the sherry, scraping up all the brown bits and let reduce by nearly half. Add the cream and milk and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 3 - 5 minutes to let it thicken, stirring often. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, then taste for seasoning. Add any pork juices that have accumulated on the cutting board and stir them in. Since the roast is brined, the pan juices will be quite salty, so it's best to wait till the end to season the sauce if needed. 

Slice into half inch thick pieces and adorn with copious amounts of sherry cream sauce.

for the dauphinoise potatoes

1 3/4 lb potatoes, peeled (I used red bliss, but 
   Jacques recommends yukon gold)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
scant tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375*. Combine the milk, garlic, salt, nutmeg and pepper in a large sauce pan. Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick and add them to the pan as you go to ensure they don't get discolored.

Butter a large (at least 6 quart) baking dish with the softened Tbsp of butter.

Turn the heat on to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring often to prevent the slices of potato from sticking to one another.

Once it reaches a boil, add the ingredients to the buttered dish and spread them out evenly. Add the heavy cream. Bake on a baking sheet (just to be on the safe side) for up to one hour, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Let the dish stand, covered, for 20 - 30 minutes before serving to allow it to completely set. 
I was in the mood for petit pois with pearl onions swimming in butter for this meal, but endive with mushrooms and peas would probably go even better. 

Dauphinoise Potatoes slightly adapted from Jacques Pépin's Gratin Dauphinoise

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