Friday, January 26, 2007

RSC#23: Maple Pork Roast with Raisins and Dark Chocolate

Pork and chocolate. Two of my favourite things, yet they are not normally used in the same recipes. For last week's Ready, Set, Cook! event, instead of the normal three feature ingredients, Anne provided a selection of five ingredients, from which the participants could choose two or three for their recipe. The five ingredients were: salmon, maple, pork, tomatoes and chocolate. As soon as I saw that, I knew that I had to try making something with both pork AND chocolate, because no-one else likely would and because I love a challenge. Now, I did a bit of searching on the internet for any recipes that used these two ingredients because I didn't want to blindly throw something together if it was just going to taste like crap. You see, from past experience, I have come to realize that there are some combinations of ingredients that just don't work. At this point I will reference my teenaged experiments with omelettes, and just what was possible to mix with eggs in a fry pan. Keep in mind here that I was around fourteen and had no finesse in the kitchen, and when I say "omelette", I mean I cracked a couple of eggs into a pan and threw some other stuff in with them. There was no whisking, or blending or even measuring (although that's not necessarily a bad thing), but I found that the combination that I hated most was eggs and chocolate. Looking back, I'm still not sure why this didn't work, but it sucked sure enough.

I wanted to avoid that this time.

I found a neat recipe for a sauce that involved red wine vinegar, sugar, raisins and dark chocolate. The best part was that this sauce was meant to be used with meat, and in this case, pork. I think that the secret to this sauce was that there really wasn't that much chocolate in it, that it wasn't a 'chocolate sauce'. It was a very nice reduction using chocolate for a flavouring rather than a base. It worked really well with the roast I cooked, and I will definitely be keeping this recipe on file.

The recipe I originally created can be found here in the wrap-up for Ready, Set, Cook #23. As normally happens, it got modified slightly when I actually attempted it. The recipe I actually used can be found below.First of all, I bought a cheap pork shoulder roast for about six bucks from the grocery store a few blocks from my house, along with some red wine vinegar and some maple syrup. I already had the raisins and the chocolate from my recent cookie-baking explosion from before Christmas. The original recipe also called for roasted pine nuts, and I went to the trouble of buying some, but when I cooked the roast, I completely forgot about them and left them out. Didn't really make much of a difference, as the pork was unbelievably tasty even so, but it irked me to have forgotten.

I cooked the meat in my handy-dandy cast-iron dutch oven (I love my dutch oven), with the veggies, the chicken broth, the wine and the maple syrup. I was expecting more of a maple-y taste from the roast, but I guess it got overpowered by the wine. As you can see from the picture above, the meat came out beautifully. It was falling off the bone, and was easily shredded with two forks. While the meat was resting (before I shredded it), I made the sauce.

I have to mention here that boiling vinegar is not one of my favourite smells. In fact, it is probably one of my least favourite food-related smells, along with boiling beer (that's a story for another day), and frying liver. My mother would always try to fool my brother and I by cooking bacon with it, but we knew, oh we knew... waitaminnit... where was I?... oh yes, the boiling vinegar. I DON'T LIKE THE SMELL.

The dark chocolate (I used chopped-up dark chocolate chips) melted nicely into the sugar-vinegar mixture, and gave it a rich taste that I really liked. The raisins also added some more depth of flavour, and a bit of texture, and of course raisins always go well with pork.

This is a good recipe, and one that I will actually consider cooking for other people. I have somewhat of an eclectic palate, and as some of my friends are not as culinarily adventurous as I am, I have to take this into consideration when I say "Try this!".

Maple Pork Roast with raisins and dark chocolate
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time over 2 hours
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
1½ kg (3 lbs) pork shoulder roast
2 medium onions, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 C red wine
1 C chicken stock
½ C maple syrup
salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ C red wine vinegar
¼ C sugar
2 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
½ C raisins
enough rice for 6 people

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Place a large saucepan, or dutch oven on high heat.
When very hot add the olive oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove the roast from the pot and set aside.
Add the onion and stir on heat for a minute until the onion is slightly golden.
Add the roast back into the pot, then add the sliced carrot, red wine, chicken stock and maple syrup, and bring to the boil.
Season with salt and pepper, cover, and place in the pre-heated oven.
Cook for 2 – 2.5 hours, until the meat is tender and falling apart, basting every 20-30 minutes. Make sure the liquid does not completely boil away, adding some more chicken stock or wine if necessary.
While the meat is cooking, place the red wine vinegar and the sugar in a small saucepan, stir till the sugar dissolves and then boil for two minutes.
Add the chopped chocolate, stir it, add the raisins and then set aside to allow the raisins to plump up in the liquid.
When the meat is cooked, shred with two forks and add the chocolate/raisin/vinegar mixture.
Serve with rice.


Anne said...

Eggs and CHOCOLATE? Dude, that's worse than my own homemade pizza that was a flour and water dough topped with tomatoes and American cheese...blech-it was foul. I was 11...what do you want? :oD

Ian said...

Mmmmm.....American cheese....

One of my other "interesting" omelette combos was eggs, apples and wine cooler. I don't recommend it. Gives me shivers just thinking about it. :-{>

Anne said...

You drank too much wine cooler first ;o)