November 21, 2015

Shall We Lighten Up a Bit? We Shall.

Second snowfall of the year
For better or worse, I have added my voice to the conversation about how France is coping with the attacks in Paris. You can see my latest Valley News article hereBut today, let's talk lunch. I laughed uncontrollably at the panic surrounding Matt Lauer's turkey adventure. (I am really scared that this information made it to me in rural Burgundy.) I have talked about the French's slightly different approach to public health codes. I thought about it this afternoon while I was making a pork roast with mushroom sauce.

One of the great advantages to living in France is that you are forced to cook more...and hopefully better. When around French people, you quickly learn that they are winging it most of the time, using some natural instincts that other nations do not necessarily have (though the Italians certainly share this strength). They just kind of set their oven for "pretty damn hot" when they're roasting meat, and leave it in there until, well, it's done. 

Butter and flour=good things
While I have certainly had my fair share of misadventures while attempting to channel this casual attitude, I am starting to see more successes. Luckily, today was one of those days. The little ones were out for morning handball practice (hard-core), so I had the place to myself. I put the pork roast on a bed of onions and carrots, splashed a little olive oil on 'er, and shoved it in the oven. I neglected to remember to salt it beforehand. It was not a catastrophic omission. 
While it cooked, I sautéed some regular mushrooms in...wait for it...butter. As I wasn't terribly thrilled with the coloration of the roast after about 20 minutes, I jacked up the temperature. Place smelled good.
When it seemed to me that the roast was done (kids were back from practice, horribly underfoot, and clearly hungry as wolves), I took it out. Was it 45 minutes? An hour? Somewhere around there. I strained the juices and added them to the same pan I had used for the mushrooms. A little white wine and some homemade chicken stock soon bubbled together with the juices, and I let it reduce while I cut into the pork. As always, a little wave of relief swept over me that it was neither scarlet not a dried-out white log. A little pink=very tasty pork. When it is white and dry all the way through, you won't get trichinoses (raise your hand if you know anyone who has actually had this malady), but you will also have a depressing meal.
Now it was time for one of those little tricks that I did every once in a great while at home but now find myself doing weekly: mash some butter into some flour. The proportions don't matter, just go by feel. These two combined have a way of making your pan sauce a million times more unctuous, and that equals dining rapture. 
Served with a little white rice, some chopped parsley, and next to a plate of grated carrots, we were à table, just like every other French family in the country. As usual in these moments, and maybe particularly these days, it felt good.

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