Thursday, August 11, 2011

Getting "Potted" - Polish Style

Witamy!  Do you have a favorite, “go-to” cooking pot?  Why do you like it so much?  Ours is wide 5-quart beauty that is well into its golden years, having been purchased over 35 years ago, as part of a cookery set Laura bought before we got married.  Occasionally we still see this same brand of pots being hawked at home & garden shows by salesmen who cook every type of ingredients without sticking, burning or ever ruining the food.  They’re right next to the miracle wiping cloth, miracle mops, and miracle knives that cut everything from paper to my fingers.  Yeah, right! 

We’ve bought a lot of pots over the years:  small saucy pots, big lobster pots, pasta pots, steamer pots, non-stick pots, outrageously expensive pots, just about every kind of specialty pot ever made.  But the one we keep going back to is this 35 year-old mature, shiny, vessel that has cooked more pasta, chili, spaghetti sauce, stews, soups, and braised roasts, than I can remember.  It’s wider than most, fits the burner exactly, heats the bottom uniformly, and doesn’t burn stuff unless we forget to stir or crank the heat up too high.  With all the fancy kitchen tools on the market, this pot is a gem and I expect will be with us forever. 

A couple of weeks ago we braised a hunk of pork butt in our favorite pot, for a sweet‘n spicy pulled pork recipe we brought back from Costa Rica.  That reminded me of how tasty braised roasts can be.  If you don’t cook the meat too long, the liquids in which the meat cooks impart moist and flavorful results that are amazing.  Here is a really easy recipe for a tasty pork roast that is a sure winner for family and company alike!  Smacznego!

Braised Pork Loin - Polish Style
Serves 6
1½ pounds boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons seasoned flour
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup apple cider, apple juice or water
3 large onions, halved and cut in ¼ inch slices
½ teaspoon salt
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut in ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoon flour
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Dredge the pork loin in the seasoned flour.  Heat oil in a 4-5 quart oven-safe pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown the meat on all sides and set it aside.

Add onions to the pot and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened and just starting to turn golden in color - about 5 minutes.  Add ½ teaspoon salt and continue to sauté and stir until onions are golden and caramelized.  This may take up to 8 more minutes.  Remove the onions and set aside for later.

Add the apple cider, juice or water to the pot and return the pork to the pot.  It should sit in about one to two inches of liquid.  Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 1 hour.  Check the pot once in a while to make sure the liquid has not evaporated.  Add more if needed.

Add the cooked onions and apples to the pot and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove the meat and keep warm on a platter covered with foil. 

Strain the pan drippings through a sieve, pressing down on the solids to push all the juices out.  Discard the solids and return the strained juices to the pot.  Add 2 tablespoons flour and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to make a sauce.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Slice the pork thinly, arrange on a pretty serving platter, and pour the sauce over the meat. 

Serve with red cabbage, mashed potatoes, Polish beer or your favorite hearty red wine.

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