Low-Fuss Slow-Food Dinner: Pork Pot-Roast in Red Wine Sauce

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

There are some lazy days you’re in the whole day and want something good to eat but with minimal fuss. This dish takes a while to make, but the actual kitchen work is almost negligible. It’s the answer to your lazy prayers!

I was inspired by something vaguely German: sausages cooked in red wine and caraway seeds. Being too broke to buy good sausages and too posh to venture anything too downmarket in the sausage department, I went for good ol’ pork shoulder instead. It helped that it was on sale too. Feel free to use sausages, in which case you can cut down the cooking time to 20 minutes instead of 3 hours! Don’t go running out to buy a whole tin of caraway seeds if you don’t have them. Substitute anything with anise flavour like star anise or fennel seeds. You can even use Chinese five-spice  (wuxiang/mm hiong) powder.

Staying on the lazy theme, I couldn’t be bothered to boil the potatoes for mash, so I baked them instead. I like to mash them skin and all because the roasted skin gives a lot of nice texture and I don’t like the hassle of picking the skins out anyway!

The only boiling you’ll need to do is the greens. I use kailan here for its mustardy flavour. It goes amazingly well with the pork. Just give them a quick one-minute scald in boiling water and it’s good to go.

And the wine. I normally use whatever leftover stuff I have in my freezer. But for drinking, try a pinotage. Mine was by Two Oceans (2006) in South Africa. Being very young, it’s a bright red purple with cherry and strawberry in the nose. It’s very juicy with soft tannins and just enough astringency for balance. It’s very easy drinking and quite agreeable with this pot-roast.

dscf4028

Ingredients:
300 g pork shoulder, cut into large cubes
1 tbsp oil
3 small purple onions, sliced
10 button mushrooms, halved
2 tbsp flour
1-2 cups red wine
2 tsp caraway seeds
salt and pepper

3 floury potatoes (try Russets or King Edwards if you can), scrubbed
1 knob butter

kailan, boiled

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC and slip a casserole dish in to preheat.
  2. Prick the potatoes with a fork to prevent explosions. You can omit this step if you’re brave or foolish like me.
  3. Brown the meat on all sides in a non-stick pan. Use the highest heat possible. Transfer to preheated casserole dish.
  4. In the same pan, add the oil and fry the onions till a bit burnt in places. Add the mushrooms and let them brown or even burn slightly at the edges.
  5. Then add the flour and stir vigorously till onions and mushrooms are well coated. Do not let burn! Turn down the heat if you need to and stir for about one minute. It’s good if the flour browns.
  6. Add the wine, caraway seeds, lots of ground pepper and a bit of salt. Scrape the bottom of the pan so all goes into the sauce. Pour onto pork and stir to coat. Ensure that the liquid covers at least half the pork.
  7. Cover the casserole dish with the lid and put in the oven for 3 hours. At the same time, put the potatoes directly onto the oven bars.
  8. Check after half an hour that the mixture is bubbling gently, not boiling. Turn down the heat if it’s boiling too vigorously. Stir occasionally if you’re up for it.
  9. Two hours later, retrieve the potatoes. Squeeze them to check that they’re cooked. They should squish slightly. Remember to use an oven mitt.
  10. Immediately transfer to a bowl and squish hard so they fall out and mash a bit with a fork. Add the knob of butter and stir. Cover.
  11. When the pot-roast is ready, take out and serve with the mash and boiled kailan. Try to look civilised as you fall upon your food.

Serves 2.

Jazz at a Smoky Bar

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Thanks to anti-smoking laws, we don’t get smoky bars in Singapore anymore. While it’s great that we get to pickle our livers and avoid the risk of lung cancer at the same time, jazz bars lose a certain sense of romance without the cigar smoke. (Not that our jazz bars had much cigar smoke in the first place.)

Now in KL, there are lively, just smoky enough jazz bars. Perhaps because most of the smokers were on cigars and cigarillos, Alexis Ampang was such a place. I wish I could post the photos of the revelry but my friends would probably kill me first. Sorry!

The jazz was decent and the wine accompanying the music was even better. I started off with a Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Cuvee Gerard Potel (2006) from France. It was pale yellow with a gentle bouquet of honeysuckle, apricot and peach. Lots of soft fruit in the medium dry wine, well-balanced by slight acid on the tongue and had a long mineral finish. I liked it very much. Incidentally, Jancis Robinson gives a stamp of approval of sorts: she counts Nicolas Potel as a quality-conscious négociant. It would pair very well with seafood. Something quite restrained like seafood risotto. Rating: 5/5

For my second glass, I stayed with the whites and ordered a South African KNW Chenin Blanc (2007). It was the palest yellow you can imagine, with a lovely lime nose. It was medium dry, had a rather chewy sort of flavour, and had the mineral finish I like so much. Rating: 4/5

One of my friends had a Brightwater Nelson Sauvignon Blanc (2008.) from New Zealand. It was pale straw and had a big fruit nose. Lots of fresh lychee, peaches and honey in there. It was sweet, well-balanced with a pleasing floral finish. One of those flamboyant, straight forward, in your face wines. Rating 3.5/5

Damage done for two glasses of wine and a great night of jazz and chatter: RM 55

Alexis Bistro Ampang
Great Eastern Mall
303 Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur

Key to ratings

0  Wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole
1  I’d rather drink beer
2  If there’s nothing better
3  Just one glass is fine
4  More, please!
5  Where can I get a case?