The Roast Beast

Folks in the nacle are talking recipes lately. I’ll share a tasty winter recipe I made a few weeks ago: A basic (but quite tasty) Pork Roast.

Main Ingredients:

4-5 pounds or so of roasting pork (shoulder, loin, butt, etc.; pork chops will do too)
6-8 medium potatoes
10-12 carrots
4 medium onions
4-5 parsnips, or 1 big rutabaga, or 2 medium rutabagas (I don’t recommend omitting these — they provide a very useful amount of bite).
1-2 turnips (optional)
1-2 yams (optional)
Items for marinade (see below)

*Note: You will need a relatively large roasting pan for this particular amount. Ours is about 10 by 15 by 7 inches, and this amount of food barely fit in it. If you don’t have a roasting pan that large, use what you’ve got, and reduce the recipe to fit.

If you don’t have a roasting pan with a lid, there are ways to fake it. Find your largest substitute — a 9×13 cake pan or whatever. Reduce the recipe by, say, 2/3 in size or so, to make it fit. And cover the pan with foil, once the roast is in it. This isn’t the same as a roasting pan, but it’s not a bad substitute.


1. Marinate the pork. You can largely improvise; I tend to. This time around, the marinade was more or less this:

1/2 cup lite soy sauce
2 tbsp or so Worcestershire sauce (*Do not overdo the Worcestershire sauce, it’s one of the few things that can really overpower this dish in a bad way).
1/4 cup chopped garlic in olive oil
1 tbsp mixed spices
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp rosemary
(Both thyme and rosemary are superb roasting spices)
1/4 cup capers.
1/8 cup olive oil.
1/8 c or so lemon juice.

You’ll want some acid in your marinade, so that it penetrates. Either lemon juice or vinegar will do, though vinegar has a stronger flavor. (If you’re using Italian dressing to marinate, then leave the lemon juice out — no need to double up on the acid.) You’ll also want to take a fork and poke the meat a lot, so that it has tiny holes the marinade can get in.

If you have a whole roast, you’ll want to marinate at least 2 hours. If your roast is pre-cut into sections, or you’re using pork chops, you can marinate less time — 1/2 hour for pork chops.

2. While it’s marinating, peel your potatoes, and cut them in half. Not smaller — they’ll cook just fine at that size, and if they’re too small they’ll turn into mush.

Peel the other veggies. Cut the onions in half, too. The carrots and parsnips can be whole. Big chunks are the way to go with the veggies, especially if you’re using a whole roast and not a cut-up roast.

3. Put the roast in the pan. Throw on 1/4 c or so of garlic. Surround it with the veggies. Try to get some variety in veggie height — this will matter, later. Some veggies should be on the bottom of the pan. Others should be near the top. They’ll taste different depending on where they are, and you’ll want a variety.

Pour some of the marinade into the roasting pan, but not so much as to make your roast soggy. The marinade level in the pan should be enough to almost, but not quite, submerge a laying-down carrot — so depending on the size of the pan, you may need 1/2 or 3/4 cup of marinade. This is useful because it will help create tasty broth, but you don’t want too much liquid to start.

Preheat the oven to 350.

4. Throw some spices on the top of the top veggies, because they won’t get the benefit of cooking in the broth. I threw on about a tablespoon of mixed spices, 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in olive oil, a few tablespoons of olive oil, 3 crushed bay leaves, and 1/2 tsp or so of thyme.

5. Cover it, and toss it in the oven.

6. Cook at 350 for — well, it depends. For a whole roast, you’ll need 2-3 hours minimum. Maybe more. For pork chops, 80 or 90 minutes is likely to be fine.

Pull it out at the 2 hour mark, if it’s a big roast, and either use a meat thermometer to see if it’s done (160), or cut it open in a thick part and check the color. For a big 5-pound roast, depending on location, it may need 3-4 hours. If in doubt, re-cover and put it back in for another 30 minutes or hour.

7. Once done, pull it out. You should have a mix of crunchy veggies (on the top) and soft, juicy, broth-cooked veggies on the bottom. The pork should be done.

Tilt the pan and use your 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the drippings. Let them sit a moment, and the fat will separate. Pork fat is pretty unhealthy, so I skim that off and toss it. Strain the drippings, too.

8. Put the strained, de-fatted drippings in a saucepan. Take out corn starch and it mix with cold water, 1/4 cup cold water to about 2 tbsp corn starch. Once it’s thoroughly mixed and dissolved in the cold water, mix it into the hot drippings. (Don’t put undissolved cornstarch directly into the hot liquid or you’ll end up making cornstarch dumplings, not gravy.) Cook it until it turns clear, usually a minute or so. If you want thicker gravy, use more cornstarch mixture.

9. Serve, and enjoy!

10. Bonus: Once you’ve had it a few days, if there’s much in the way of leftovers remaining: Take out your 9×13 cake pan. Debone, cut the pork into little cubes, and toss any obvious fat chunks. Cut up any big veggies. Put it all in the pan, and dump the gravy over it all. Cook that at 350 for 1/2 hour or so. Throw some cheese on the top. It’s a great way to put a new spin on leftover roast pork, veggies and gravy.

Okay, what recipes have you been enjoying lately?

18 comments for “The Roast Beast

  1. Mark IV
    March 13, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    OK, catfish ‘n’ cornbread sounds like redneck grub, and it is, but a lot of people who don’t like fish enjoy this recipe:

    Grilled catfish fillet with pineapple/mango salsa and cornbread

    Using a box mix, prepare the cornbread batter and place in the oven to bake.

    For the salsa:

    cut up a pineapple in 1/2 in. chunks, or use 3 cans of pineapple chunks, welll drained.
    dice and seed 2 large sweet red peppers
    seed, peel, and cut up one mango
    seed and chop 3 jalapenos
    1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
    approx 1/4 cup lime juice
    salt to taste

    Mix the salsa ingredients and adjust to taste

    When the cornbread is about done, place fish fillets on a hot grill for about 4 minutes. Turn them over for another 2 or 3 minutes until done but not dry. You can use tilipia or any other inexpensive fish.

    Place a fillet on each plate and top generously with salsa. Serve it with a hot piece of cornbread with honey and stand back.

  2. Jim F.
    March 13, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Mark IV, what’s wrong with redneck grub?

    Both of these recipes look very good. Thanks.

    Here is a recipe for pork chili with beans.

    Prepare your favorite dry rub, the kind you would use for ribs, ahead of time.

    Cook enough beans for the amount of chili you plan to serve. Cook them with ham hocks or, even better, with the bone from a salted country ham. Do not cook them completely; let them remain barely crunchy so that when they are cooked with the meat they won’t fall apart.

    Dice onion to match your beans–not in quantity, but so that the mix of beans and onion will look good.

    Dice and smash one clove of garlic for each onion.

    Cook the onion in a little oil or fat until it is translucent. Then add the garlic and add the dry rub until the onions are dark red. Cook the dry rub-garlic-onion mixture until the dry rub has become a paste and you can smell the spices in it–about five minutes. Cooking the spices allows them to blossom and to meld their flavors.

    Add the onion mixture to the beans.

    Cut up enough pork butt to fill out your chili. Cut it into 1 inch cubes or a little larger. (Add pieces of salted country ham if you have it, but don’t overdo the country ham. The salt from the ham gives the chili a good flavor, but you want it still to taste like chili.)

    Brown the pork pieces and add them to the beans.

    Add enough cumin to give it a light cumin taste, but go slow on the cumin. Add too much and you won’t taste anything else.

    Cook slowly until the beans are done and the pork pieces fall apart. Add more red pepper if you like your chili hot.

    If you are a “no beans in chili” person, leave out the pork butt. If you’re a “no meat in chili” person, use the same basic technique, but braise the pork pieces in broth, water, or beer before you add the onion mixture. You may need to add tomatoes or some other liquid.

    Using dry rub and then cumin gives you a nice chili flavor without using chili powder, making the flavor unique.

  3. March 13, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Easy cookies from cake mix. Got this from Hints from Heloise.

    All you need is a box of your favorite flavor cake mix (18 ounce size), 2 eggs, and one-half cup vegetable oil. For added flavor, you can add chocolate chips, nuts and/or raisins. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well, then, on an ungreased cookie sheet, drop a teaspoonful of dough every 2 inches or so. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes in a 350-degree, preheated oven. When done, remove from the oven and allow them to cool.

    Cracked Wheat Bread

    One of the tricks to making good cracked-wheat bread is to let the cracked wheat soak for a while before adding the rest of the flour. If you use cold tap water, let it soak for at least 30 minutes. Using warm water, let it soak for at least 15 minutes. If cracked wheat is refrigerated instead of fresh, add another 15 minutes to soak time.

    Don’t use warm water out of the tap. Draw cold water and then microwave it, or heat it in a pan.

    Here’s my recipe for use in a Sunbeam bread machine. I think it’s between 2 and 2.5 pounds. I suppose you could do this by hand, too.

    1-2/3 cup warm water.
    2 cups fresh cracked hard red winter wheat, measured after cracking. The fresher the better. I crack it pretty small, but not into flour. I use a Shule brand grain crusher on setting #1.
    1/4 cup turbinado sugar, which is raw sugar or evaporated cane juice.
    1 Tbsp cooking oil. I use a blend of olive oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil.
    2 tsp salt. (I use 1 tsp table salt, and 1 tsp sea salt.)
    1 cup whole wheat Durum flour, from Middle Eastern grocery.
    1 cup combo white Wheat/Black Rice flour, UPC # 807176235058, CJ brand, from a Korean grocery. May substitute with 1 cup of white bread flour or 1 cup of all-purpose white flour (not self rising).
    2/3 cup whole spelt flour, from organic grocery store.
    2 tsp Fleischman’s bread machine yeast.

    Put 1 and 2/3 cups very warm water in the bread machine.
    Add the 2 cups cracked hard red winter wheat.
    Add 1/4 cup turbinado sugar.
    Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil.
    Add 2 tsp salt.

    Let soak as above.

    Add the remaining ingredients, adding the yeast last.

    I use the WHOLE WHEAT setting, and LIGHT CRUST. The whole cycle is 3 hrs 40 mins.

    It takes the water a while to get fully absorbed, so I use a spoon and help along the mixing process. The dough ball will be real thick and coarse at first, but it eventually smoothes out.

  4. MikeInWeHo
    March 14, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Anybody want to learn how to make a great Mojito when fresh mint is hard to come by?? : )

  5. Kaimi Wenger
    March 14, 2007 at 3:28 am


    Well, you’re probably this board’s expert on the topic. :)

    I just chuckled, thinking about how strange this particular knowledge gap is, compared to many people. I have the (correct?) impression that most average college kids (or for that matter, most of my colleagues at most jobs I’ve held) could probably tend bar in a pinch, if they needed to. (Isn’t it one of those low-paying summer jobs that lots of college kids end up getting?)

    Meanwhile, I would be quite possibly the world’s worst bartender. I have a vague idea of what goes into some drinks, but the only ones I’d be really sure about would be the ones where the ingredients are all in the title (i.e., gin-and-tonic).

  6. March 14, 2007 at 10:10 am

    For good redneck recipes, and how to feed a family of four on $45 to $70/week, see:

    She’s not LDS, but uses a lot of ingredients that LDS would have in their food storage, and are available at LDS canneries.

  7. MikeInWeHo
    March 14, 2007 at 11:07 am

    This is how rumors get started….Now over at M*…..”We just knew it ! MikeInWeHo is a big drunk !” LOL.

    Just to clarify: I suck as a bartender and drink very little, but definitely don’t feel bound by the current LDS interpretation of the WoW at this point in my life. A glass of good red wine with a perfect steak seems heaven-sent. My true vice is tea, oddly enough. Have never had a cup of coffee in my life (seriously!) but wow am I hooked on my morning English Breakfast tea with soy milk and Splenda. Now that’s an embarrassing confession….

    Here’s the antidote to the redneck recipes:

    While I find most of the recipes too complicated to bother with, it’s perfect for those times when you’re standing in the kitchening wondering, “How do I caramelize an onion, anyway???”

  8. MikeInWeHo
    March 14, 2007 at 11:08 am


  9. Mark IV
    March 14, 2007 at 12:05 pm


    “Kitchening, kitchen…” Not to worry, brother – most of us would sound that way after a little wine!

    I do disagree, however, with your idea that a redneck’s eating habits need an antidote, and that the antidote is to become an epicure. I think rednickism and epicureanism can be complementary. The site you linked to at epicurean dot com has recipes on the front page for meatloaf with bacon and also fish fritters, two wonderful forms of downhome chow. And a quick search of the site revealed recipes for red beans and rice as well as for (hold your breath) grits. I think we miss out on some wonderful meals when we overlook a dish based on its humble origins.

  10. Kaimi Wenger
    March 14, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    . . . and he leaves his Christmas lights out on his front porch all year long,
    and he knows all the words to every Charlie Daniels song . . .

  11. Mark IV
    March 14, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Kaimi, I have a friend who actually went to high school with Gretchen Wilson, but since this is an LDS blog I cannot reveal the nickname he said she used back then. He makes great biscuits and gravy.

    I think the old joke that Jeff Foxworthy told applies here. People will turn up their noses at grits, bu tell them it’s polenta and they will beg for seconds.

  12. CS Eric
    March 14, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    With St Patrick’s Day this week, does anybody have a good corned beef and cabbage recipie?

  13. MikeInWeHo
    March 14, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    re: 11 Oh, so true!

    Penn & Telller did a segment on their TV show wherein they set up a fake, trendy restaurant and did some candid-camera stuff. A food stylist prepared a bunch of REALLY cheap trashy ingredients but made them look expensive….and filmed pretentious yuppies (a group I know nothing about) ooohing and ahhing over toasted stale white bred, canned tomatoes, cool whip-based deserts, etc. It was hysterical, if slightly painful to watch.

    Gotta run. I’m late for cocktail–errr, lunch hour.

  14. Beijing
    March 15, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    My law school is having a chili contest fundraiser in which each student organization enters a batch of chili. I am very pleased to have run across your recipe, Jim F, and would like to make and enter it on behalf of my little voting rights group. (Our chili slogan: “Every Bean Counts!”) Does a busy law student have time to make a decent dry rub from scratch, or do you have recommendations for ready-made dry rubs? Also, could you provide more of a clue on proper cumin proportions?

  15. March 16, 2007 at 2:00 am

    Proper cumin proportions? Hmm. “To taste” may be as good as I can suggest. I apologize that I don’t have a proper recipe. But perhaps I can give you a place to start for tasting:

    If you’re making enough for six or eight people, put in about a tablespoon, let it simmer for five or ten minutes, and see how it tastes. If you think it could use some more, add some until there is a nice balance of cumin flavor with the other flavors. However, my pet peeve in chili is that because the most common flavor of chili is cumin, sometimes people just keep adding the cumin. It should be a flavor, not the flavor.

    As for dry rubs: You can probably buy one, though I don’t recall ever seeing one in the grocer’s. However, it doesn’t long to make a dry rub from scratch since it is just a matter of mixing spices together. If you have the spices (and usually dry rubs don’t use exotic spices), you can make one in five or ten minutes. There are a number of good recipes for dry rub on the web. I suggest finding one that you think has interesting spices and proportions in it and mixing it up. If you like garlic, go for one that has lots of garlic (usually in the form of garlic salt). If you don’t like heat, look for one in which the red color comes mostly from paprika rather than from red pepper–or cut back on the red pepper and add paprika.

    Here is one that I like (adapted from Aidells and Kelly, The Complete Meat Cookbook):

    2 T paprika
    up to 2 t cayenne pepper–or other flavorful hot pepper powder
    2-3T granulated garlic or garlic powder
    2 T light or dark brown sugar
    1 T dry mustard
    1 t ground sage
    1 t ground coriander
    1-2 t dried oregano (or Mexian oregano, a different but good flavor)
    1/2 t cinnamon (optional)
    1/4 salt
    1 T freshly ground black pepper (or, if you can find it, 1 T freshly ground grains of paradise)

    By the way, I only mentioned it in passing, but I also highly recommend braising the pork butt in beer before cutting it up, then adding the braised pork butt to the chili beans to finish cooking. Throw the stock from braising into the pot with the chili for extra flavor.

  16. Ben
    March 16, 2007 at 10:56 am

    A cumin tip- Get yourself a cheap pepper mill, and put cumin seeds in it. Freshly ground cumin whenever recipes call for it :)

  17. Beijing
    March 16, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you!

  18. Jim F.
    March 16, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Ben, that’s a good tip for all spices. They are much better when freshly ground than otherwise. However, if you’re making a recipe that calls for 3 tablespoons of something, it can be quite a bit of work to grind it. The answer to that problem is to buy a small electric coffee grinder and grind the spices in it. They won’t be as nicely ground as they are from a pepper mill–uneven sizes is the main difference–but they’ll be fine enough to cook with.

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