Roast Pork à la Boulangère

Every day, on my way to work and then on my way back home, I think about two things: what am I going to make for dinner, and what wine do I have to go with it.  Many times, it's the other way around!

Here's a wonderful recipe that supports an array of wines, from a crisp white sauvignon blanc to a delicate  pinot noir.

This is a wonderful combination of pork, onions and potatoes that highlights a good pork roast and its juices.  It's called Roast Pork à la Boulangère, a recipe I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Doubleday Cookbook, by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna.  Jean and Elaine say it's the kind of old-time recipe that a typical French baker's wife might throw together.  I've kept to the original recipe as much as possible, except for the cut of meat.

In a nutshell, this dish is simple:  a pork roast laid atop buttered and seasoned onions and potatoes.  That's it!  It serves a crowd, and I have to say that everyone who has had it clamored for more.  Everyone who only got a whiff of the aroma, well it left their mouth watering.

I've followed the recipe and noted my changes in parenthesis.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium onions
  • 3 to 4 pounds of medium-sized potatoes (small russet potatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (2 tablespoons dried parsley, but it's really worth getting fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (½ teaspoon dried marjoram)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or 2 teaspoons of Lowry's Garlic Salt)
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic (1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 5-pound Boston Butt pork shoulder roast
    (Here's my variation that I feel is essential.  I tried this recipe with the recipe's suggested pork center loin roast, but it just didn't have enough pork juices to do a competent job of flavoring the onions and potatoes.  I've found, and read in several cookbooks, that the flavor of pork seeps into potatoes to give them a fabulous flavor.  So, why mess up a good thing?  Well, if you do this my way and find it to be too much, back off and use a pork center loin the next time.)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Mince the garlic well enough that it becomes a bit of a paste (use a mortar and pestle or an appliance that will do the trick).  Rub the roast with the garlic, but leave the netting on the roast.  Place it fat side up in the rack inside a roasting pan.  You could use a meat thermometer (the center should get to 170° F), but the pork will finish its roasting atop the bed of onions and potatoes you're about to prepare while it's on the initial roasting pass.  Set the oven to roast for 1 hour.

Next, you guessed it, take those onions and chop them coarsely.  You should have about two cups, or a bit more.  If you have less, cut up another onion.

Then, peel those potatoes (or get someone else loitering around your house to do it -- I don't enjoy peeling potatoes, so it's something I'm always looking to get out of doing).  Cut the potatoes, as you would for scalloped potatoes, into thin chip-sized coins.

After the hour of roasting, take the pork out of the oven and put it on a cutting board.  Remove the netting by cutting it off with scissors.

Combine the onions, potatoes, marjoram, parsley, butter into the bottom of the roasting pan.  Next, put the roast, fat side up, on the bed of onions and potatoes. (One variation I've tried - and it's really good - is to cut the roast into slabs that you then place over all the onions and potatoes.  It roasts faster, and spreads out the yummy pork flavor like nobody's business.)

Raise the temperature in the oven to 400° F, and roast for between 1 and 1½ hours.  If you cut the meat, you won't need a meat thermometer.  Otherwise, you might want to use one to ensure the roast is done all the way through.

Serving

Serving is simple.  You can arrange the pork in the middle with the onions and potatoes circling it, or just mix it up in a large casserole if you've already sliced it up.

The Wine

A simple chardonnay will do nicely.  I enjoyed this dish, several evenings, with these wines: