The New Sunday Roast…Sage and White Wine Pulled Pork with Crisp, Red Apple and Fennel

In our super-busy, modern lives we seldom get the chance to pause, fully savour and enjoy.  We fly from one activity, event or meal to the next, thinking I will get the chance to relax and enjoy tonight, or tomorrow, or at Christmas.  Every activity keeps getting squeezed or combined – drinking breakfast from a box during your commute, watching the news while you work-out or eating lunch at your desk while tapping away on your computer.

One of the last bastions of civility seems to be the Sunday lunch.  It is clinging on for its dear life, in large part supported by our parents who have learnt that these are the moments that count.  The whole idea behind the Sunday lunch is to slow-down, to relax and to share conversation and food with close friends and family.

I love it!  Putting something in the oven early, with the kids haring round and letting the aromas envelope the house.  It is a perfectly good excuse for having a full pudding in the middle of the day too!

Now I have to be honest and admit when I consume a full, traditional Sunday roast I get a full, consuming lethargy mid-afternoon.  I used to happily welcome falling into bed, post-lunch to sleep off my carb-coma.  Unfortunately now, with two small children, mid-afternoon naps are not a goer.

So I have revised the menu plan.  I try to keep the ingredients fresher and lighter, the prep time down and the cleanup, minimal.

This last weekend we had an epic pork roast, slow-cooked in sage, my dear, old earthy friend, garlic and white wine.  I popped it in the oven when we woke up and it softened and became succulent through the morning.  I then pulled the pork apart and served it with a crisp, red apple and fennel salad simply seasoned with lemon and olive oil.  The combination of the pulled pork, crisp apple and fennel was both light and hearty, belly-filling but not coma-inducing.  The lack of prep allowed us to enjoy our morning and relax with our friends.  All-in-all, it was a lazy, leisurely Sunday……just how it should be.

Recipe

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 3 1/2 hours

1.5kg rolled pork roast, fat and rind trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil and extra for frying
handful of fresh sage leaves, torn in halves and crushed
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of water
¼ tsp of both salt and pepper
2 red apples, washed and cored, don’t peel – I like royal gala
2 fennel bulbs, washed, stalks trimmed, keep the frondy tops
juice f 1 lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Flaked sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C/375F.  Dry pork roast with paper towels.  Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a Dutch oven/frypan and sear all sides of the pork roast to seal the meat.  Remove the Dutch oven/frypan from the heat.  Keep the pork in the Dutch oven or if using a frypan now place the pork in an oven dish.   Cover the pork with olive oil, garlic, sage leaves, salt and pepper and pour wine and water around the base of the dish.  Cover the dish with a lid or tightly with tinfoil and place in the center of the oven.  Cook for 3 hours, checking hourly to top up the water around the pork.  The liquid around the base will keep the pork moist so you don’t want it drying up.

Cut the apples in thin slices, then slice again to form long sticks.  Thinly slice the fennel bulbs.  Toss fennel slices and apple sticks in a bowl and pour over lemon juice and e.v. olive oil.  Check taste and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with fennel fronds.

Remove the pork from the oven, place on a carving board and lightly cover with tinfoil.  Let the pork sit for 15-20 minutes.  Uncover pork and pull apart with two forks leaving a variety of sized pieces.  Place in a dish and pour over remaining juices from the oven dish.   Serve while warm.

Enjoy, savour and devour!

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