By Linda Bassett
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While I’m nursing a broken foot, I’m determined to find easy cooking. I found a copy of the “I Hate To Cook Book” to see if there was anything useful. Yes, there is a stew for someone who wants to stay in bed all day reading a novel. Assemble a bunch of ingredients and leave them to cook for hours. Get someone to haul it off the stove or out of the oven. Wow! Those women from the ‘50s and ‘60s had it figured out. Good broken bone stuff.
But I’ve got to live in this century and keep current. So I researched something I’ve only eaten in restaurants and always wanted to try at home. Porchetta. Pork, roasted outdoors. An ancient recipe (OK, not “this century”), new in eateries where chefs cook the whole pig, long and slow, often in the parking lot.
According to Anna DelConte’s “Gastronomy of Italy,” porchetta is milk-fed and roasted on a spit. From Sardinia (an island off the coast of Italy), it was originally cooked like an American clam bake, fired in a hole in the ground lined with wood, hot stones, and myrtle leaves. Tuscan cooks season it with wine, rosemary, and wild fennel. Most of us aren’t about to go out and buy a whole pig, so I tried something tamer. A pork roast small enough to fit my oven and kept the seasonings. A real recipe follows as well as that legendary lazy cook’s stew.
PORCHETTA FOR HOME COOKS
Makes about 12 servings
Get the pork boned out and butterflied at the market: take the bones to flavor the roasting pan.
5 cloves garlic, peeled
5 rosemary branches, each about 3-inch long
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 stalks fresh fennel, chopped (optional)
Salt, ground black pepper
4-1/2 pound pork loin, bone-in (boned and butterflied at the meat counter)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup white wine
1. Chop together the garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds, and fennel stalks, if using.
2. Lay the butterflied roast out flat. Pat the garlic mixture over one side. Roll up the roast, keeping the seasonings on the inside; tie it with string. Pat the outside with half the oil. Let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oven to 350 F.
4. Put the roast, with the bones around it, in a large roasting pan. Pour on the rest of the oil and the wine. Roast for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, basting every 20 minutes with the juices.
5. When the roast reaches 150 degrees, turn the heat to 425 F. Cook, 10 minutes longer, to brown the outside. Discard bones. Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Let it stand, 15 minutes, to redistribute the juices.
6. Transfer the roasting pan to the stovetop. Pour 1/2 cup hot water into it and bring it to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer it until it reduces to about a third of its volume.
7. Take off the string. Slice the meat very thinly. Pour the cooking juices over it to serve.
Makes 5 to 6 servings
Adapted from Peg Bracken’s “I Hate To Cook Book.” In anticipation of broken bones or flu season.
2 pounds stew beef, cubed
1 can tiny peas
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large red onion, thickly sliced
Salt, pepper, to taste
1 can cream of tomato, celery, or mushroom soup thinned with 1/2 can water
2 Idaho or russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 275 F.
2. Put all the ingredients in an ovenproof casserole with a lid.
3. Cover and let it cook for 5 hours (enough time to finish a murder mystery, or take a Nyquil-fueled nap). The ingredients will be falling-apart tender.
Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Read Linda’s blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.
Kitchen Call: Easy cooking with a broken foot
By Linda Bassett