Recently, I went to France to test drive some porcelain cookware. I wanted to see how it handled my favourite cooking method ....... grilling!
For inspiration, I headed to the famed indoor food market, Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse. The meat was displayed like jewels and treated as such. After speaking with a butcher, I settled on a beautiful piece of pork. It was long and oval with a thin fat cap on top. Perfect for grill-braising. In the U.S., this cut is sold as a pork roast or a pork centre loin roast. You also can use a traditional pork loin, or a crown roast of pork, which is simply a bone-in pork loin.
Whatever you buy, try to get a piece of pork that still has a thin layer of fat on the top. This will help keep the lean meat moist during cooking, as well as add flavour.
As I tested recipes and cookware, my goal was to keep things simple. I started by placing shallots on the bottom of the dish to elevate the meat, like an edible roasting rack. This offered the added bonus that the meat produced its own sauce during cooking. Beer was my choice of braising liquid, as I like the bold, yeasty flavour. But you could use wine and/or chicken broth, or even apple cider. Just remember that the braising liquid is a key flavour ingredient, so it will alter the taste of the dish.
This very simple recipe is soul satisfying and the combination of herbs de Provence, shallots and beer tastes far more complex than the simple combination suggests. The best part of the dish is the bed of shallots that melt into a ragout-like sauce as the pork cooks. You slice the roast, then just stir the pan juices and soft shallots together to make a pan sauce.
GRILL-BRAISED PORK WITH SHALLOTS AND HERBES DE PROVENCE
Start to finish: 2 hours 20 minutes (10 minutes active)
6- to 8-pound pork roast, fat left on the top
Fleur de sel (or other large, flaked salt)
12 to 15 large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Two 12-ounce bottles beer
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat, indirect cooking. For charcoal, this means banking the hot coals to one side of the grill and cooking on the other side. For gas, turn off one or more burners to create a cooler side, then cook on that side.
Use paper towels to pat dry the pork roast. Drizzle the roast with oil on all sides, then season with fleur de sel. Set aside.
In a large, oval Dutch oven, arrange the shallots in an even layer, cut sides down. Sprinkle the shallots with herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Drizzle all over with olive oil. Place the pork roast on top of the shallots, fat side up. The shallots will hold the pork off the bottom of the pot.
Pour 1 beer into the pot. You want about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of liquid on the bottom. Add more beer during cooking as needed to keep the dish moist. You never want the bottom of the dish to be dry.
Place the lid on the pot and set on the cooler side of the grill. Let cook for 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. The fat cap will begin to brown and look crispy. Return the lid to the pot and cook for another 40 minutes, or until the pork reaches 135 F. The pork is done when the meat is completely white and the fat is golden brown.
Let the roast rest in the pan, covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Skim the fat from the juices in the pan, then stir the shallots and pan juices together to make a sauce. Slice the roast and arrange on serving plates. Top with the sauce.
Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories; 230 calories from fat (46 per cent of total calories); 25 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 155 mg cholesterol; 460 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 54 g protein.