Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pot roast shoulder of pork with fennel, shallots and potatoes

While I wholeheartedly approve of any homecooked family meal, I have always been a little baffled by the idea of a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Great if your services are not required in the kitchen but consider the poor old family cook, who is still often the woman of the house, slaving as she does over meat and eight veg, while the other family members watch the Eastenders omnibus or Formula 1. Lets be honest its a real palaver and it can seem as though every single pot, pan, dish and plate has been used in the name of this most British of institutions. I think we place so much emphasis on this tradition each week that it leaves us reluctant to cook more often at other times during a busy week. If the cook in each house simplified their approach to Sunday lunch and also to other meals then I believe we can eat better and cheaper more often.

If you read my blog then you will notice that I have created a few easy Sunday 'roasts' that require very little input, save a few choice ingredients and plenty of time. Dishes that are ideal for leaving in the oven or slow cooker while you read the Suday papers or take a long walk to work up an appitite. No-one need know of your little secret as what you present at the table will blow your diner's socks off.

Pot roast shoulder of pork with fennel, shallots and potatoes

This particular cut is cheap but one of the best. It is really difficult to mess it up as it requires long slow cooking. I love these cuts of meat as they are so much more flavoursome than their flashier and more expensive butcher's slab brothers. Fennel, tarragon and cream have a wonderful affinity with pork and this makes for a fantastic plate of food. It is cheap too and comes in at around £2.50 per portion.

Serves 4

2 kg piece of pork shoulder
3 shallots or 1 onion, quatered
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, quatered
8 new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
100 ml dry cider (Aspall's organic is lovely)
100 ml double cream
a couple of sprigs of tarragon, finely chopped

1) Preheat your oven to hot. Place a little oil in a casserole or roasting tin and pop in the oven to heat up.

2) Season your pork and sit in the centre of the dish. Arrange the vegetables around, making sure there is a snug fit or they will burn. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes so the pork skin has a chance to crackle and the veg takes on a little colour.

3) Pour in the cider, cover with a lid and turn the oven down low, say about 120 degrees and leave to cook for about 4 hours, just watch the cider doesn't evaporate, it shouldn't as the shoulder of pork will release its juices, creating a lovely sauce.

4) Remove the meat and veg to a plate and keep warm, strain the cooking liquid into a sauce pan, reduce by boiling until you have about a quater of a pint, add the cream, bring to the boil and allow to thicken slightly. Stir in the tarragon and put on to simmer while you carve the pork and serve up.

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