Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cooking the Book: Jamie Oliver's Balsamic-Baked Onions and Potatoes with Roasted Pork

Having been lax on the home front, I thought the past weekend would be great to do a little cooking. After perusing my shelves for cookbooks, I decided on a recipe from “Jamie at Home”, the cookbook for Jamie Oliver’s show of the same name. Leafing through the book, I made a list of recipes I could try, but I decided on his balsamic-baked onions and potatoes with roast pork.

Saturday morning came with a quick visit to the best butcher in town, Paul Anthony’s, and I arrived home with this in tow.

A 3 ½ lb boneless pork loin is a good start to any dish. With this pork loin, I needed a whole mess of herbs. Thankfully, there is a nice supply in the little garden in front of our store.

The results of a quick garden raid were fantastic.

With the pork loin washed and waiting, I got my herbs ready. In an effort to thoroughly flavor the pork loin, the recipe calls the herbs to spread over a chopping block.

Freshly ground fennel seeds and a small bunch of chopped rosemary leaves, combined with a good amount of ground pepper and kosher salt cover the cutting board. I then proceeded to roll the pork loin in the spices, making sure everything was nice and covered.

After I found a properly sized roasting pan, I put it over medium high heat on the stove and then added a little olive oil.

By putting the loin fat side down, everything comes out nice and caramelized.

While the pork loin was browning, I quickly chopped up the rest of the ingredients for the loin.

This bowl of 6 crushed garlic cloves, a medium, peeled & quartered red onion, 2 stalks of chopped celery, and 4 bay leaves was soon added to the pork.

Everything was looking great and was put in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.

Getting on to the balsamic-baked onions and potatoes, I started with a roasting pan over two eyes

I then added a good slug of olive oil, 7 ounces of butter (kerrygold in this instance), another bunch of chopped rosemary leaves, and a whole bulb of garlic that had been peeled and smashed.

As soon as everything was looking good and unhealthy, I added in my potatoes.

I had about 3-3 ½ pounds of Yukon golds that I had quartered lengthwise and par boiled. Per Jamie’s instructions, I had “chuffed” them in the pot I boiled them in. I guessed that “chuff” meant to shake.

When the potatoes had been coated in butter, in went the onions

Immediately after came 1 ½ cups of balsamic vinegar

After seasoning to taste with salt and pepper,

the whole pan went in the oven with the pork.

While I was putting in the veggies, I snapped a shot of the pork loin.

Looking pretty good so far, and after a quick basting, I shut the oven door and left everything to cook.

About 50 minutes later, I took a look at the pork and decided it was time for everything to come out.

The pork looked pretty good, and the onions and potatoes were quite a site.

Needing time to rest, I covered the pork and set it aside while I made a quick pan sauce.

Per Jamie’s instructions, I did my best to mash up the onions and garlic and added 2 or so cups of white wine. I’ll admit I was lazy, I didn’t pass the gravy through a sieve, but I prefer the more rustic look.

I loved how the pork came out.

The fat cap combined with the spices made a wonderful crust that permeated the entire loin.

The final results may not be the most photogenic thing I’ve ever made

But I believe that’s the point of Oliver’s “Jamie at Home” cookbook. This is rustic cooking from things you grew on your own. The presentation might not be good enough for a spread in food and wine, but the taste is spectacular. The unique flavor of the balsamic permeated every piece of the potatoes and onions and mellowed a little in the process. Really, this was a spectacular dish, and I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again. I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to cook from “Jamie at Home”.

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