The French word for potato is pomme de terre, or “apple of the earth.” And on the North Fork, both the apple and the potato are at their best in October.
Many varieties of apple and many sizes of potato are now available to give us choices of flavor, size and texture that we never experienced before. They also combine to enhance each other’s attributes: the starchy potato and the sweet, acidic apple. When meat is involved, apple and potato seem to complement pork best of all. The following pork roast recipe exemplifies the synergy between these ingredients:
Roast Pork with Apples
Purchase a boneless, center-cut pork roast of about 2 1/2 pounds. Wrap it in 6 strips of apple-smoked bacon and tie it into a tight roll with butcher’s twine.
Slice 6 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes into quarter-inch slices, leaving the skin on. Place the slices in a large bowl.
Peel and quarter 2 large Mutsu apples and remove the cores. Save the skin and cores for the sauce. Cut the peeled apples into thick slices and add them to the potatoes.
Peel 1 Spanish onion, cut it into wedges and add it to the potatoes. Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme to the potato mixture along with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss this mixture together and place it in the bottom of a shallow casserole.
Put the bacon-wrapped pork roast on top of the vegetables and place it, uncovered, in a 425-degree oven. Let it cook at high heat for 25 minutes before turning the heat down to 300 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes at low temperature before inserting a meat thermometer to see if it has reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
While the roast is cooking, place the apple skins and cores into a small saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups hard cider, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 bay leaf and 2 sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and let it reduce by about half before straining it into another small saucepan. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into the sauce, bringing it to a boil again to thicken slightly.
Serve the pork with the sauce on the side, along with some homemade chunk-style applesauce.
Peel and core 2 large Mutsu apples and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a saucepan and add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Add the juice and zest from 1 lemon and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and mash with a potato masher.