There are a few folks, a handful, that know a thing or two of how pork entered into our native land. The folks I am referring to have in possession a first peek at my latest cookbook, an online digital copy featuring recipes of our Mobile area and of our area’s history, folklore, trivia and at times, plain ol’ storytelling. And, in this recipe ‘book’ contains the story of how pork as we know it, gained foothold on our land and in our Southern area, first brought to us by the Spaniards. If you remember, these folks were the winners of a contest last year and the cookbook was a prize to weekly winners.
There are so many elements in this recipe that is Southernese. The pork as mentioned is one and from the lower Southern state’s sugarcane fields comes brown sugar while from other states along the coast and upward to the Carolinas yields the crops of sweet potatoes. Don’t forget the sweet onions of Georgia, Louisiana and Texas; the corn distilled bourbon from just about every lower state and honey that comes from many backyards. Even a whole grain mustard, a Creole brand would be good in this recipe however I chose the French Dijon (which was brought in the early years to the states from France) that I purchased in NOLA.
I know I ramble sometimes ’bout nothing, but let me say this pork roast was remarkably tasty, ever-so-moist. Topped with the onion gravy with the sweet potatoes riding proudly by its side, the flavors of this dish made me want to ‘slap my mama’. And, that story is in the ‘book’ too, which by the way, should be ready for distribution shortly. In the meantime, pick up a nice pork roast and cook up a taste of Southern history. Enjoy!
Brown Sugar Pork Roast
with Sweet Potatoes and Onion Gravy
8 to 10 servings
1 -7 to 9 pound Boston butt pork roast
1/3 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 sweet onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 -10.5 ounce condensed beef broth
2 or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch disks
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Since the pork roast is braised with a liquid, we do not need the fat layer on top of a Boston butt which normally keeps it from drying out. With a sharp fillet knife, remove as much of the fat as you can.
Brush the pork roast with the mustard coating all surfaces. Pat the brown sugar all over the roast and rub into the crevices of the roast, Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and lightly sear the roast on all sides. You are not browning here, just a sear. Do not burn the sugar. Remove roast to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.
Add the onions to the Dutch oven, turn up the heat and stir in the pepper, honey, cayenne, vinegar, bourbon and cook about 5 minutes. Add the roast back into the Dutch oven. Pour to the side of the roast the beef broth, cover and bring to a boil. Place in the oven and reduce heat to 325. Cook for 2 1/ hours (1 1/2 hours for a much smaller roast).
Remove from oven, turn roast over and place potatoes along the sides and on top of the roast. Cover and return to oven. Cook for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.
Test pork roast with a meat thermometer. Remove from oven when the meat registers 170 degrees. Place roast and potatoes on a platter. Strain the pan drippings with onions discarding the grease. Add about 2 cups of the drippings back to the Dutch oven reserving the onions. Mix the cornstarch with the water and stir into the drippings. Heat over medium high heat to a boil and stir to thicken. Stir in the onions until heated thoroughly.
Slice the roast and serve with the gravy.