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X-Planations: Chef Peter X. Kelly Serves Up Roast Pork

Roast rackof pork is a great "go to" dish.
Roast rackof pork is a great "go to" dish. Photo Credit: Peter X. Kelly

YONKERS, N.Y. -- This recipe was inspired by a meal my mother often served when company was expected. She'd roast fresh ham or leg of pork for six to seven hours until it was severely overcooked, then serve with potatoes that had been cooked earlier in the day.

My roast rack of pork with butternut squash puree and julienne apple preserves my mother's intent of simplicity but in the words of a famous chef, “kicks it up a notch.” I substitute a trimmed and brined rack of pork (ask your butcher) for the ham with butternut squash puree taking the place of the mashed potatoes.

I've added the step of brining the pork for 24 hours but this is not absolutely necessary (though it will ensure a well-seasoned roast). I also use this brine for roast chicken (the chicken only needs to brine for six to eight hours).

Preheat oven to 375º

Ingredients:

  • 4 chop rack of pork-trimmed and frenched
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 Honey Crisp apple
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove

Procedure:

  1. Slice butternut squash lengthwise and remove seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, salt and pepper. Place meat side down on a cookie sheet and bake approximately one hour, until very soft. Scoop out meat from shell. Discard shell.
  2. In a food processor, process squash until smooth adding a tablespoon butter, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.
  3. Rub pork with chopped garlic, salt and pepper. In an ovenproof skillet, large enough to hold the pork, heat one tablespoon of oil until very hot.
  4. Place pork in skillet and sear on all sides. Remove pork from stovetop and place skillet in oven, pork bones facing up.  Roast at 375º for approximately 45 minutes to an hour (depending on size) or until juices run clear. Remove from oven and let rest 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. On center of four dinner plates, place a spoonful of butternut squash puree. Slice roast into four chops and sit on top of puree. Sprinkle julienne apples around plate. Serve.

Brine:

  • 1  gallon water
  • 1 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 inch piece peeled ginger
  • 8  pieces star anise
  • 6  pieces bay leaf

In a large nonreactive bowl place all ingredients and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Submerge roast in brine and leave in refrigerator up to 24 hours. Remove roast from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Roast is now ready to cook.

Next Week: "Cocktails"

This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday. Go here for last week's story.

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