Food + Drink

From the Chronicle Kitchen: Sunday Roasts

Today’s guest blogger is the wonderful Betty Rosbottom highlighting her latest Chronicle cookbook Sunday Roasts—the follow-up to her best selling book Sunday Soup. Let us know what you think of this week’s recipe by leaving a comment below, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of the book we’ll reward to a randomly selected person (offer eligible in the USA and Canada only).

Is there anything better than a glorious roast to anchor a holiday meal? I don’t think so but, of course, you might say I’m a bit biased since I just authored Sunday Roasts. ‘Tis the season when stately standing ribs, glistening glazed hams, and golden-hued turkeys take the main stage at the table, and I’ve included tempting recipes for these traditional favorites and much more in my newest book.

But, here’s a little secret I discovered while creating the dishes for this collection. Roasted racks of pork—an often-overlooked cut—make a stunning (and very reasonably priced) choice as the centerpiece for a holiday menu. You won’t find this cut wrapped and ready to pick up at the meat counter. You’ll need to call ahead or ring the bell to speak to a butcher when ordering, but you’ll be rewarded with a majestic piece of meat.

The following recipe for Racks of Pork with Apple Chutney serves 10 very generously. The racks are brushed with olive oil scented with a hint of curry, then roasted to a rich golden brown. You don’t even have to worry about a last-minute sauce since the pork is served with a delectable homemade chutney that can be prepared several days ahead. Add your favorite sides—mine are garlic mashed potatoes and tender little green beans (haricots verts if you can get them) sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Voilà! You’ve got an impressive roast that is absolutely delicious and, I promise, as easy as 1-2-3 to make!

Racks of Pork with Apple Chutney

Plenty of cooks have made racks of lamb, but few have indulged in succulent racks of pork. The latter make an impressive presentation and are quite reasonably priced. In the following recipe, pork racks are brushed with curry oil (a simple combo of olive oil and curry powder) and roasted on a bed of onion wedges. When done, these dark golden racks are served with their bones intertwined, surrounded by the slightly charred onions and accompanied by homemade apple chutney. When sliced, the pork yields extra-large chops.

1/2 cup/120 ml olive oil
4 tsp curry powder
2 racks of pork with 5 ribs each, about 3 lb/1.4 kg per rack (see market note)
1 1/2 lb/680 g medium red onions
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and curry powder. Brush all surfaces of the pork with half of the oil mixture; reserve the remaining oil. Let racks rest at cool room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4.

Peel the onions and cut them into 1-in/2.5-cm thick wedges, leaving root ends intact. Salt and pepper the racks of pork on all sides.

Set a large, heavy, flameproof roasting pan/tray over 1 to 2 burners on medium-high heat. When hot, add one rack, fat-side down, and brown on all sides, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and repeat with the remaining rack. Return the racks to the roasting pan/tray and arrange them facing each other with the bone ends pointing up, fat sides out, and the bones intertwined. Scatter the onions around the pork and toss with the reserved curry oil.

Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the racks registers 150°F/65°C and the onions are softened and browned around the edges, for about 1 hour.

Remove the racks from the pan, arrange them with the bones intertwined on a platter, and surround with the onions. Cover the racks and onions loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, slice the racks into chops (which will be extra large), sprinkle each with some salt, and top with some Apple Chutney. Garnish with a few onions.

Serves 10

Prep time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (including if you make chutney)

Start-to-finish time: 4 hours, 15 minutes, including resting time for the cooked meat

Leftover tips: For a great sandwich, thinly slice any remaining pork and mound on baguette or sourdough slices. Spoon some chutney on top of the pork and add some shaved white cheddar.

Market note: Ask the butcher to prepare the racks by removing the feather and chine bones so that you will be able slice the racks into individual chops. Also ask the butcher to prepare the racks French style, which means that all the meat between the rib bones is trimmed away for a neat appearance. A thin layer of fat should cover the exterior of the ribs to keep the meat beneath moist as it roasts, but other excess fat should be trimmed.

Apple Chutney

My longtime assistant and friend, Emily Bell, is the queen of chutneys. I’ve never been to her house when she didn’t pull a new creation from her pantry. This apple chutney, which she invented one fall, is one of my favorites. Diced Gala apples, with their bright red skins left on, are simmered with onions and spices in a mixture of sugar and vinegar. Sweet, tart, and peppery, this chutney never fails to delight.

2 large Gala apples, unpeeled
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup/125 g chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup/130 g light brown sugar
2 tsp country-style Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
2/3 cup/165 ml cider vinegar

Halve and core the apples, then cut them into 1/2-in/12-mm dice.

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan heat 2 tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté, stirring, until onions are softened, for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the saucepan and stir in the diced apples. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the apples are translucent and lightly browned, for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the brown sugar, mustard, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne and stir until the sugar starts to melt. Add the vinegar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the liquids are syrupy, for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chutney cool to room temperature. (The chutney can be prepared 3 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups/400 g

Prep time: 15 minutes

Start-to-finish time: 45 minutes, plus 15 minutes or more for the chutney to cool

Purchase: Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys and Legs of Lamb.

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