Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roasted Salt and Spice Packed Pork

I made this for Christmas dinner this year and it was a hit! It is definitely a dish for a special occasion. The salt and spice crust locks in moisture and adds more flavor than you may think. If you make this for company, make sure they are present before you remove the crust. It has such a fun presentation it would be a shame for people not to see it. 
The recipe calls for freshly ground spices. I have a small coffee grinder that I use only for spices. If you don't have a spice/coffee grinder, I think it would be okay to use already ground spices. The advantage to using freshly ground spices is that they have a stronger flavor. It is important to use coarse kosher salt because the salt grains are much larger than table salt.

I used a large oven safe pan instead of a roasting pan. I like using the a oven safe pan because in my mind it fits better over the burner while you are searing it. It makes no difference though. Before you settle on a pan, make sure the pork will fit. The recipe is a lot easier than it may seem. The total active cooking time is about 30 minutes and the rest of the time it is in the oven. Make sure to just have fun with it! You will have a lot of intrigued guests, when you pull it out of the oven and take the crust off. The presentation and unveiling of the meal is half the fun sometimes!
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit 
1 5-pound bone-in pork rib roast, chine bone removed
1 teaspoon plus 8 cups coarse kosher salt (3 3/4 to 4 pounds)
1 teaspoon plus 2/3 cups freshly ground black pepper (3 1/2 to 4 ounces)
1/3 cup freshly ground fennel seeds (1 to 1 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup freshly ground whole allspice (1 to 1 1/4 ounces)
1/3 cup freshly ground juniper berries (about 1 ounce)
1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
  2. Rub 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and a1/3 cup fennel all over the pork. Heat olive oil in a large heavy oven proof pan OR roasting pan over medium-high heat. It is very important the oil is heated first. Place the pork, fat side down, in the pan. Cook until browned on all sides and ends, using tongs to hold it upright if necessary. Transfer to a baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine 8 cups salt, 2/3 cup pepper, allspice and juniper, in the same pan you seared the pork. Stir to combine. Add one cup water and stir to moisten. Spread 3/4 of the mixture to 1 side of the pan, spreading the remainder into a strip as a base for the pork to rest on. Place the pork into the pan, bone side down, on the salt base. Pack the remaining salt over the pork, enclosing entirely.
  4. Roast pork in salt crust until an instant read thermometer inserted straight down into pork from the top center reads 165F, about 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Transfer pan to a work surface. Let pork rest 10 to 20 minutes. Remove all salt from around pork, brushing an remaining salt off. Transfer to a cutting board and carve.

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