Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Better with Buttermilk" - Glazed Pork Roast - Using Leftovers!

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, March 5, 2017 – Leftover buttermilk

Better with Buttermilk – The Secret Ingredient in Old-Fashioned Cooking by Lee Edwards Benning
Published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc.
ISBN:  0-8050-3118-9; © 1996
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, St. Paul, MN
Recipe:  Glazed Pork Roast – p. 79

I am my mother's daughter.  She never liked to throw anything out and neither do I which is why I try to use up leftover ingredients from other dishes I've made.

Today's "leftover" is buttermilk which I purchased and used in my husband's birthday cake the day before.  His recipe required a mere four tablespoons and of course, I could not find anything smaller than a pint which was way more than I needed.

No worries, because I had a buttermilk cookbook that was collecting dust, just waiting for the perfect moment to be used.  I can now check this sucker off my list and get on with my life, hooray!

Truth be told, I could have (and often have) made my own buttermilk at home by adding lemon juice to milk, but I didn't want my homemade buttermilk to be the reason for a potential disaster with his birthday cake (happily, it wasn't) and so when life hands you leftover real buttermilk, you make something else with it.

I have to say that the "something else" I made with it – Glazed Pork Roast – was good yet puzzling.  This is the second time I've made a pork roast in a tenderizing milk bath and I have to say it's one of the uglier dishes I've ever platted as the milk gets all clumpy. But this time around, the appearance was made even worse by the inexplicable (to me) addition one 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.

As I am fond of saying, let's parse this.  If buttermilk already contains a sour agent like lemon juice, then what is accomplished by adding more sour (cider vinegar) to the mix?  The taste was fine if not a tad "biting" but the presentation fell far short of my expectations and I'm not sure it would have improved had I made the gravy which I did not because I'm boycotting flour and milk and/or flour and butter combinations for the time being plus, I was tired!

In terms of flavor, it was good but I cannot say I tasted the buttermilk in any way.  I should read up on these type of milk-bath pork recipes more because maybe the intent it to tenderize (with the milk) rather than "flavorize," in which case, mission accomplished.  What I tasted instead were the onions (two kinds), the sweet carrots, and a bit of the cider vinegar which did not please.  It wasn't enough to derail the dish, but it did make me wonder – again – the point of adding the vinegar.

Like many dishes though, this one improved by refrigerating overnight and so we finished it up, but I don't like to "grade" recipes on their overnight stay, I grade them on how they taste and appear on arrival [to my dining room table].  So on arrival, I was on the fence, upon further review, it improved, and overall, I'd say I liked this but probably would make something else from the book the second time around.

One note on the onions:  This dish calls for a yellow onion and then small white onions.  Since I always make a half recipe, I did not want to purchase too many white onions as I would not have used them up quickly in the next few days.  And in my opinion and experience, frozen white onions (a third option not noted in the book) work great but only if you use them up at once.  If you don't, they can become waterlogged and that is not good at all.

And now, back to our discussion of the main ingredient, buttermilk, already in progress.  In theory, there is absolutely no reason you can't find a dish to make in this book because it pretty much runs the gamut of starters (appetizers) to pancakes.  That said, the "Main Dish" chapter was somewhat disappointing in that it contained only 10 recipes, most of which did nothing for me such as "Calves' Liver Stroganoff," "Salmon Pie with Artichoke Hearts" and "Leg of Lamb," none of which I enjoy.  Okay, slight fib:  my dad used to make the best liver and onions when we were kids but then we stopped eating it when we found out how bad it was for our cholesterol which was genetically-high on my mom's side.  Still, I could deal with the liver if I had to but the "stroganoff" was a big no for me.  I just can't go there.

I could have easily made just about everything in the "Dessert" chapter but then again, I just spent hours in the kitchen making my husband's birthday cake and was not in the mood to repeat that experience so that chapter was out.  You should know though, that a good portion of the recipes in the "Dessert" chapter are for sherbet which is fine but I don't really consider it a "dessert" dessert, unlike the "Chocolate Frozen Soufflé," be still my heart!

And honestly, if the weather was warmer, I likely would have made a salad dressing because I love buttermilk dressing, but it was on the chilly side and that does not say "salad" to me.

In the end, I went with the pork roast, final answer.  I cannot say it was "Glazed" as per the title, but that's okay as sometimes recipe creators take poetic license with the name to generate interest; I do the same with my own writing from time to time.  Still, if you are thinking this will be "glazed" as in "glazed ham" glazed, this is not that.  It was tasty and it was easy to make but not necessarily glazed.  Of course, this could very well have been an "operator error" on my part.

Here then, is a recipe from a cookbook I used for no other reason than "waste not, want not!"  Enjoy.

Glazed Pork Roast – Yield: 8 servings (The author notes you can substitute a solid piece of chuck roast, if desired)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
6 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons oil or margarine
3- to 4-pound boneless pork roast (butt or shoulder)
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
8 small potatoes
One 14-ounce can small white onions, or 16 fresh peeled (Ann's Note:  I cheated and diced up one large, white onion and it was fine although it will add a bit more onion flavor to the dish than the small white ones.)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour

Heat the oil or margarine in a heavy Dutch oven or large frying pan with cover.  Brown the meat on all sides in the oil, then pour off the accumulated fat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the buttermilk, vinegar, garlic, and sliced yellow onions.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is almost done. (Ann's Note:  I used about a 2 pound roast (half the recipe) and cooked it for almost two hours.  Plan on about an hour per pound but double-check on Google to be sure.)

Add the carrots, potatoes, and small white onions, cover, and cook until the pork and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove the pork to a platter and surround with the vegetables.  Use the flour to make a gravy, adding additional water, if necessary.

Tips:  To make a low-fat, low-calorie gravy, process the vegetables in a food processor, strain if desired, and bring to the right consistency by moistening with skimmed drippings.

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