NZ pork still the king of roasts
The roast is probably the most traditional meal Kiwis were brought up on, yet today, because of much smaller households, the traditional roast has somewhat faded, not in popularity but simply in the number of times we get to enjoy it.
No matter which meat is your favourite when roasted, the king of roasts is still New Zealand pork. Likewise, no matter whether you plan to enjoy your favourite roast at home or make the most of the occasion and dine out, you will be joining thousands of like-minded Kiwis enjoying what will become an annual celebration.
I have mentioned in past commentaries that our Sundays were very traditional. I grew up in Grasmere and the roast went into the oven before we headed off for 8am mass.
Cooking low and slow, the roast was removed about noon, when more dripping was added if required and the vegetables were then roasted, having been gathered from the backyard garden. Normally, about 1pm, dad would carve the meat, dish out the vegetables and, with a good smothering of mum's old-fashioned real gravy, it was a great family tuck-in, often with a battle to see who could steal extras from siblings' plates.
The method of roasting is known as dry-heat cooking, by subjecting the meat directly to the source of the heat, being hot air.
This method requires the cut of meat to be seasoned before cooking. The seasoning will penetrate through the joint, adding to the flavour, as well as creating the tasty crust we all enjoy.
Start your roast at a high temperature. Searing the meat this way will seal in the natural meat juices. The oven temperature can be turned down for the rest of the cooking time.
Place the meat on a bed of roughly chopped root vegetables. This will raise the joint from the bottom of the roasting pan and prevent overcooking of that portion of the roast. It will also add flavour to the juices left in the roasting dish for the gravy.
So this Sunday will be a big one for the Hawkes extended family, and knowing how much all the family enjoy New Zealand pork, I will prepare a full boneless leg of 100 per cent New Zealand pork with a tasty stuffing.
The best cut to stuff and roast is the leg. Once you have chosen your piece, ask your butcher to tunnel-bone the joint for you.
Once you have the piece of pork home, leave it in the refrigerator overnight with the skin area exposed, helping it to dry out. This will ensure the crackling will be perfect once cooked.
ROAST LEG OF PORK
Ingredients to make 2 cups of stuffing (I used 6 cups for the full leg):
Method: Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and add the onion. Cook slowly until the onion is transparent. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Place the pork on a clean chopping board skin side down and with the tunnel where the bone was removed facing you. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.Place the stuffing into the cavity of the pork.
Skewer to secure and tie if needed.
Score the skin with a sharp knife.
Chop a peeled carrot, parsnip and onion roughly and place in a roasting dish. Place the pork with the crackling up on to the vegetables.
Season the pork well with sea salt and rub the crackling lightly with a non-flavoured oil.
Place in a very hot oven (220 degrees Celsius) and cook for 15 minutes.
Now turn the oven down to 165C and continue the roasting process until the meat is cooked (allow 35 minutes per 500g of pork).
There is no need to baste the pork during cooking, as the skin covering will keep the joint moist.
Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and place it on the carving plate. Cover the pork with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you check the crackling is ready (if not, simply remove from the roast and place under the grill for a few minutes to crisp up) and make your pan gravy using the juices that remain in the roasting pan.
Tilt the roasting pan and skim any fat using a spoon, leaving any meat juices. Now place the roasting pan over a direct heat and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of flour into the juices and combine with a wooden spoon.
Turn the heat up to about medium and stir in about 200ml of dry apple cider with a balloon whisk.
Now add any vegetable stock or liquid from cooking any vegetables to the pan and whisk until it all bubbles up to be a smooth, rich gravy. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
You could add caramelised apple to the dish by cutting a tart apple into 4 slices. Remove the core with a small pastry cutter and pass the apple through brown sugar.
Place 1 Tbsp of butter into a heavy-based pan and bring to almost smoking point. Add the apple and cook on both sides until golden brown and caramelised.
All that is left to do now is to serve the delicious pork along with your favourite vegetables, the crackling and apple, then enjoy.
Note: An option would be to take the stuffing along to the butcher with you and have the roast stuffed and tied for you.
The Southland Times