Our friend Jeff Lobb is a wonderful cook and entertains beautifully. Especially when his partner Don is in the kitchen with him. And if Jeff is famous for one dish above all others, it is his fondness for Rack of Pork that stands out. This wonderful cut comes from Costco. But for some reason Costco only carries it around the holidays. We’re not quite sure why. It’s a Swift Premium product that’s labelled as All Natural and Minimally Processed. It also represents a terrific buy when you are feeding a crowd. One Rack of Pork is made up of 8 big, juicy ribs so there’s plenty for 8 guests. So come December the minute it appears, Jeff stocks up on it. He’s been known to ask friends to pick up more racks if they’re headed to Costco. I love it. And I asked Jeff for his recipe. So if you are planning a dinner in the next several days to celebrate New Year’s, I would rush out to Costco and come back home with at least one rack and, more sensibly, two because although Costco limits its sale to the holidays, this is one wonderful dinner part dish any winter weekend you like.
It starts with a very garlic-y herb paste. And it’s very flexible. If you aren’t a massive fan of garlic, you can cut that back. The herbs are a matter of choice too—Thyme, Sage, Rosemary are obvious choices. But you could use Marjoram, Oregano, Chives, Parsley as long as they’re fresh. And I wouldn’t leave out the Rosemary because it is the backbone of the paste. So the recipe below is a guide not an exact science. I like to make it in advance and leave it in the fridge, covered, overnight. The morning that I’m going to cook the pork, I bring the rack out, and cover as much of both far and meaty sides of the pork with it.
When it’s time to cook, the pork goes first into a very hot oven which is promptly turned down to 350 after just 15 minutes. This is one of those times when if you have a temperature probe in your oven, you’ll be so glad you do. Our Wolfe oven is so reliable that I can set the internal temperature at 145 and bingo it’s perfectly done when the chime hits 145 degrees. A few minutes of rest and you can slice big hefty chops serving one to each guest. So tender, so juicy, so moist, it’s pork from heaven.
As I searched about for sides for the dish, my trip to Scandinavia last fall came to mind. I’ve been entranced by the recipes of Danish cookbook author Trine Hahnemann. I’ve already shared her work from her wonderful Scandinavian cookbook I’d bought in Norway “Scandinavian Comfort Food. Embracing The Art of Hygge”. And I remembered that she’d written a book called “Scandinavian Christmas”. It was there that I found this great recipe that Trine wrote was ‘part of the essential trinity of accompaniments to my Christmas Eve dinner’—the other two being Caramel Potatoes and Special Gravy. If they are anywhere near as good as her Red Cabbage, they deserve some looking into.
Red Cabbage elicited a not very positive response from Andrew. I think the idea that the scent of cabbage would mingle with evergreen from the Christmas tree didn’t sit well with him. The truth was quite different. There was very little cabbage smell at all. This was undoubtedly because Trine’s recipe has cloves, a cinnamon stick and black currant cordial (Crème de Cassis) in it, so it perfumes the house with a Christmas-y smell and not a cabbage-y one. Resting a pork chop on top of this lovely purple bed elevates the look of the whole plate. Here are the recipes:
Jeff Lobb's Herbed Rack of Pork
A spectacular Pork Roast with a Garlic-y Herb Crust that's not only a crowd pleaser but a very thrifty way to entertain at dinner
- 1- 7.5 lb Rack of Pork (8 Ribs)
- 20 Cloves of Garlic Peeled
- 3 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary leaves
- 3 tbsp. Fresh Thyme leaves
- 3 tbsp. Fresh Sage Leaves
- 3 tbsp. Fresh Parsley
- 4 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp. Black Peppercorns
- 2 tbsp. Coarse Sea Salt
- Step 1 In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic cloves, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage and Parsley leaves. Pulse on until the ingredients are chopped fairly finely. Add olive oil to make a paste. Add salt and peppercorns and pulse again. Put the paste into a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Step 2 Take the rack of pork out of the refrigerator and put it on a rack in a roasting pan. Cover as much of the pork as you can with the paste. Let sit until ready to cook.
- Step 3 Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Step 4 If your oven has one, insert the probe thermometer into the center of the roast. Set the internal probe at 145 degrees.
- Step 5 Put the roasting pan into the oven, attaching the probe when you do.
- Step 6 Cook the pork at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Leave the door to the oven closed and reduce the heat to 325 degrees.
- Step 7 In approximately I hour 15 minutes later and when the pork reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, remove it from the oven, tent it with aluminum foil and let it rest 15 to 30 minutes. Slice into individual chops and serve at once with Red Cabbage.
Trine Hahnemann's Red Cabbage
This wonderful aromatic side dish has a scent lie the Holiday's themselves. It is perfect with Pork, Beef and Turkey
- 50g / 4 oz. Salted Butter
- 2-2.5 kg /4.5 to 5.5 lb Head of Red Cabbage,cored and shredded
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 8 cloves (in a cheesecloth sachet)
- 2 bay leaves
- 100g / 1/2 cup Caster or Confectioners Sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 100ml / .4 cups Black Currant Cordial or Creme de Cassis
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- Step 1 With the slicing disk in place, feed the cored and quartered cabbage through the food processor, removing it to a bowl when the processor is filled.
- Step 2 With the steel blade in place, finely chop the onion in the food processor.
- Step 3 Blend the onion in with the cabbage.
- Step 4 Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the cabbage, turning until is it shiny. Add all the remaining ingredients to the saucepan except for the salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Finally, season generously with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 This dish can be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated.
In case you missed our earlier odes to Trine Hahnemann, here are the links:
Juniper-Cured Gravlax from Trine Hahnemann’s “Scandinavian Comfort Food”