Pairings

Festive Rack of Pork paired with an aged Chateau Musar

pairings

A rack of pork just screams “Christmas!!” in our house. I’ve found that as the children are getting bigger, so is the number of ribs in the roast. My goodness, when they’re all teenagers I’ll need to cook two!! Let’s not even begin thinking about that. Even though this is quite an involved recipe, the result is pure mouth-watering, flavour-filled bliss. I often think that Christmas is the perfect time to create an eye catching, crowd pleasing centrepiece for our dinner. I love the fact that this rack of pork is not only stuffed, but also roasted and glazed. It’s the best of everything! Now, that your mouth is watering just thinking about this dish, let’s get cooking!

Selecting the Perfect Rack of Pork

  • First of all, you’ll need to choose a high quality pork rib roast. I pre-ordered and purchased ours from the Morgans Family Butchers who come weekly to the Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market. The animals are raised in the beautiful Welsh countryside and treated well. As a result, the meat is superb! It’s so amazing that I can be in North London buying fresh meat from a Welsh butcher. Farmers’ markets are fantastic! If you have one nearby, I highly recommend checking it out.
  • The first decision to make when ordering a rack of pork is what size you’ll need. My rule of thumb is to allocate one rib per person with a few more to spare. For my family (seven in our tribe), I purchase a 9 rib rack of pork because that enables everyone to have at least one rib and then a few are leftover for that extra hungry teenager or two!!! If you’re not to comfortable trimming the rind or cutting away the chine, ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, if you prefer to have the ribs completely free of meat, then ask the butcher to French trim it. These are just suggestion. Otherwise trimming the rind and cutting away the chine is not too difficult. Just ensure you have a sharp carving knife on hand.

Trimming the Rind

  • The rind is the outer layer of skin that is rather tough; however, some people save it and make pork crackling out of it. Trimming it away exposes the layer of fat, which will turn golden brown and sizzle when roasted. To successfully trim the rind, begin at one of the corners and slowly cut, aiming the edge of the blade towards the skin and not the fat. Once it’s fully removed, you will have a beautiful layer of glorious pork fat left behind.

Chining the rack

  • To chine the rack, you will notice that there is flap of rectangular ribs underneath the skin side of the roast. It’s kind of like a flap. Gently cut this part away from the rest of the rack. Once you’ve done this, you will be left with the rack of pork. You can discard the chine or add it to the roasting pan to enhance the flavour of your drippings.

Butterflying the Rack

  • Now, you’re ready to butterfly the rack of pork so it can be opened up and stuffed. Begin by placing the rack fat-side down on a cutting board. Gently, cut down between the rack and the tender meat. Then turn the knife and cut across the meat, ensuring that you only cut halfway. Once you’ve done this, the meat will fold outwards and the ribs will be sticking up.

Scoring the Rack

  • Set the oven to 240°C and place the roast on a rack in a large roasting pan with the fat-side up. Then score the fat with your knife in large diagonal lines that crisscross. Doing this will enable the flavours and glaze to permeate the meat. Next, place 4 butcher’s strings across the roasting pan rack. Then carefully place the rack of pork fat-side down on top of the strings. You will use these later to tie the rack once the stuffing has been added. Ensure that the pink meat is flat and season with salt and pepper.

Making the Stuffing

  • Now, you’re ready to prepare the stuffing. Begin by slicing a loaf of Brioche into cubes and toasting them in the oven under the grill. Keep your eye on them so they don’t burn. I usually toast them for 2 minutes, shake the tray and toast for one more minute.
  • Meanwhile, begin chopping and preparing the remaining ingredients for the stuffing, as you will need to add them quickly once you begin cooking. Once everything is ready to go, melt the unsalted butter in a pan over medium heat. Then sauté the chopped onion, garlic and celery for about 3 minutes until they are a bit soft.
  • Then add the chopped apple, mandarin zest and sauté for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the toasted Brioche cubes, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, fresh thyme, sage leaves and combine for 1 minute. You don’t want to use fresh cranberries because they will turn everything pink!

Stuffing and Tying the Rack

  • Transfer the stuffing mixture to the rack of pork and spread it in an even layer using a spoon. Then fold the sides up and tie it together with the butcher’s string. It’s just like wrapping a Christmas present…only a little messier!!
  • Carefully, turn the rack of pork over in the roasting pan so the fat-side is up and it is resting on the baking rack. Now, you need to prepare the basting liquid. Combine the chicken stock, apple juice and mulled wine together in a bowl and gently pour into the bottom of the roasting pan without getting the mixture on the pork. Place the rack of pork in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and baste with the liquids in the roasting pan. Return to the oven, lower the heat to 200°C and cook for another hour and thirty minutes.

Making the Glaze

  • While the rack of pork is cooking, you will need to make the glaze, which will be added towards the end of the cooking time. As the glaze has a high sugar content, it will burn if added too soon. Begin by combining the dark-brown sugar, marmalade, Dijon mustard, all-spice and Calvados in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened. You don’t want a runny glaze.

Glazing the Rack

  • After the roast has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and check the temperature. It should be around 58-60°C. Using a pastry brush, cover the fat side of the roast with your gooey glaze. Return the rack to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes until the internal temperature is 65°C.

  • Once your rack of pork is finished cooking, remove the rack of pork from the oven, place on a serving tray and carefully cover with foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to let the foil touch the glaze. Just look at that glistening glaze!

Making the Gravy

  • While the rack of pork is resting, you have the perfect opportunity to make a gravy. Carefully pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a gravy separator. If you don’t own one of these, I highly recommend buying one. As you can see, the fat rises towards the top and the drippings fall to the bottom. Gently pour the pan drippings into a measuring jug, leaving the grease and fat behind. Remember, there’s a lot of fat in the rack of pork and you don’t want the gravy to be too greasy.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the flour and 1/4 cup of the fat left in the gravy separator. Ensure you stir continuously or the flour will burn and scorch the pan. The greasy fat binds with the flour to create a smooth paste, which prevents the flour from becoming lumpy. Finally, add the separated drippings and bring the gravy to a simmer over medium-high heat. The sauce will thicken the longer it simmers. Heat until it’s reached the consistency you desire. Season with salt and a bit of pepper. This is a sweeter gravy, so you may not have to add a lot of seasoning. Pour into a gravy boat for serving.

Serving

Carve into individual ribs for your guests to enjoy and serve with warm poured over the ribs. I’m sure you’ll have people coming back for more! Simply delicious!


Wine Pairing

I always look forward to pairing sumptuous food with exceptional wines over the Christmas holiday period. That bottle you’ve been saving for ‘just the right occasion’ is ready and waiting to be resurrected from the depths of your dark and dusty cellar. Just go for it! The time is now!

Choosing the perfect wine for this dish involved quite a lot of contemplation. As it’s Christmas, I was after something with a bit of pizzazz, but not too much! I wanted a wine that complemented and not overpowered the festive flavours and subtle sweetness of the glaze. Additionally, it is critical to choose a wine with a medium to medium+ acidity level in order to balance the rack of pork’s indulgent fattiness. After perusing my precious Pinot Noirs and even contemplating a Condrieu, I decided that the winner was a beautiful bottle of Chateau Musar’s 2000 Gaston Hochar red wine from Lebanon! Now, if that doesn’t jumpstart your Christmas dinner conversation, then I don’t know what will!!

Due to the fact that this wine is over 20 years old, remove the cork with a dual pronged corkscrew, as it may be dry and brittle depending upon how the wine has been stored. Once you have carefully removed the cork, pour the wine into a decanter ensuring that the dregs are left behind in the bottle. Decanting the wine at least an hour before serving dinner exposes the wine to oxygen which releases even more complex aromas and flavours. Basically, the wine is ‘stretching its arms’ after having spent so many years in the bottle. After decanting and being exposed to oxygen, notes of cherry and plum, tobacco, earth and spice will synchronise and waft your way. You will absolutely love the gorgeous garnet colour which is an additional reminder that this wine is ageing gracefully. I highly recommend this bottle and hope you continue to discover all that Lebanese wines have to offer.


Festive Stuffed, Roasted and Glazed Rack of Pork

A medley of festive flavours working together to create a memorable centrepiece for you holiday celebration.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Resting time15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: rack of pork
Servings: 9 people

Equipment

  • Roasting Pan
  • Roasting Rack
  • Gravy Separator

Ingredients

  • 8-9 rib rack of pork (approximately 2-2.5kg) free range

Stuffing

  • 1 cup dried brioche crumbs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery approximately 1 stalk
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 green apple peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • zest of one mandarine orange
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecans roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh sage leaves chopped

Basting Liquid

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup mulled wine

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup marmalade
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tbsp Calvados

Gravy

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • drippings from rack of pork

Instructions

Preparing the Rack of Pork 

  • Trim away the rind to expose the layer of fat. 
  • Gently cut the chine away from the rest of the rack.

Butterflying the Rack

  • Set the oven to 240°C.
  • Place the rack of pork fat side down and gently, cut down between the rack and the tender meat.  Stop cutting about 1 cm away from the layer of fat.  Turn the knife and cut across the meat, ensuring that you only cut halfway.  Once you've done this, the meat will fold outwards and the ribs will be sticking up.  
  • Place the roast on a rack in a large roasting pan with the fat-side up and score the fat with your knife in large diagonal lines that crisscross. 
  • Place 4 butcher's strings across the roasting pan rack and carefully place the rack of pork fat-side down over the strings.  Ensure that the pink meat is butterflied flat and season with salt and pepper.

Preparing the Stuffing

  • Slice a loaf of Brioche into 1 cm cubes and toast them in the oven under the grill.  Keep your eye on them so they don't burn.  I usually toast them for 1 minute, turning over the browned pieces and toast for one more minute.  
  • Once toasted, remove the Brioche cubes and set aside.
  • Begin chopping and preparing the remaining ingredients for the stuffing, as you will need to add them quickly once you begin cooking.
  • Melt the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. -Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and celery in the melted butter for about 3 minutes until they are a bit soft.
  • Add the chopped apple and mandarin zest and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Finally, add the toasted Brioche cubes, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, fresh thyme, sage leaves and gently combine for 1 minute.  

Stuffing the Rack

  • Transfer the stuffing mixture to the rack of pork and spread it in an even layer using a spoon.  
  • Then fold or tightly roll the sides up and tie it together with the butcher's string. 
  • Carefully, turn the rack of pork over in the roasting pan so the fat-side is up and it is resting on the baking rack. 

Basting Liquid

  • Combine the chicken stock, apple juice and mulled wine together in a bowl and gently pour into the bottom of the roasting pan without getting the mixture on the pork.  

Roasting the Rack

  • Place the rack of pork in the oven for 15 minutes at 240°C, remove from the oven and baste with the liquids in the roasting pan.  
  • Return to the oven, lower the heat to 200°C and cook for another hour and 30 minutes.  

Glaze

  • Begin by combining the dark-brown sugar, marmalade, Dijon mustard, all-spice and Calvados in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened.  You don't want a runny glaze. 
  • After the roast has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and check the temperature.  It should be around 58-60°C.
  • Using a pastry brush, cover the fat side of the roast with your gooey glaze.
  • Return to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes until the internal temperature is 65°C.
  • When the time is up, remove the rack of pork from the oven, place on a serving tray and carefully cover with foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to let the foil touch the glaze.

Gravy

  • Begin by pouring the drippings from the roasting pan into a gravy separator. 
  • Gently pour the pan drippings into a measuring jug, leaving the grease and fat behind in the gravy separator.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the fat left in the gravy separator in a saucepan and whisk 1/4 cup plain flour together over medium-high heat. Stir continuously. 
  • Once a paste has formed, add the separated drippings and bring the gravy to a simmer over medium-high heat.  
  • Continue cooking the sauce until it has reached the consistency you desire.
  • Season with salt and a bit of pepper.  This is a sweeter gravy, so you may not have to add a lot of seasoning.
  • Pour into a gravy boat for serving.  

Serving

  • Carve the rack of pork into individual ribs for your guests to enjoy.
  • Pour the desired amount of warm gravy over the ribs.

Wine Pairing

  • An aged Chateau Musar Gaston Hochar 2000.