Peasant Girl Pork Roast. Does that sound appealing? That’s the literal translation of this Roti de Porc a la Paysanne, a deliciously slow roasted pork roast on a bed of caramelized onions and potatoes. The subtle differences between French and English never fail to amuse me. I’m a language and history geek. I can’t help myself. I crack up all alone in my kitchen while making dinner, thinking about the appeal of peasant dishes to Americans. I’m curious, is this the image that comes to mind when you read the word peasant girl?
Most people have no idea that English is not my native language. Some detect a certain exotic sing song cadence to my sentences, but few suspect that I learned how to speak English while wrestling with the social angst of middle school. I had a little notebook to scribble unfamiliar words to look up when I got home. The notebook disappeared long ago, but I’d love to peek at it, to see unfamiliar words scribbled in my teenage scrawl. Nowadays, I’m more comfortable in English than French, but still love the idiosyncratic differences between the two languages, especially when it comes to food.
I’d been craving this pork roast for months, a forgotten texture of my childhood, and I tinkered with the recipe over and over again, until I got it right. It’s a dry roast in a hot oven that yields a roast caramelized on top and tender inside. While it roasts, the juices baste the bed of garlic, onion and potatoes to create a sweet caramelized hash. If, like my silly kids, you elect to not put the potatoes on top of the roast, you may find it a bit dry, as all the juices go into the potatoes.
My kids don’t really speak French, but they do eat French. Helping them learn French in school, slowly acquiring the gender of various words, brings me great joy and entertainment. They get so frustrated by my explanations as to why a table is feminine (Because a table is so welcoming! It’s where we eat dinner! Of course if has womanly attributes) and a computer is masculine (so complicated, so hostile, of course it’s like a man). Just wait until I get them started on the subtle differences of peasant food vs. farmhouse food.
This pork roast, like the amazing porchetta served at Eataly Chicago, makes a great sandwich the next day, especially if you have a little cold potato mixture to throw into the layers.
- 3 or 4 pound Loin Roast (preferably with some fat on top)
- 2 cups of baby yukon gold potatoes
- 1 sweet vidalia onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1½ cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the potatoes into thin slivers, at least ¼ inch thin, thinner if you can.
- Mince the garlic and the onions.
- Rub the rub all over with the tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place a small dutch oven on a medium high flame on the stovetop. Brown the roast on all sides, about 3 minutes on each side.
- Remove from the dutch oven and set aside.
- Add the butter and cook the onions and garlic for about 4 minutes, until softened and shiny. Add the potatoes on top and give a good stir.
- Top with the roast.
- Add 1½ cups of water. Place in the oven and cook for 90 minutes, adding a little more water (1/2 cup) after the hour mark if most of the water seems to have evaporated.
- Remove from the oven. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Spoon the potato mixture in a serving bowl. Carve the roast into ½ inch slices.
- Serve hot with the potatoes or cold the next day as a sandwich.