I love when I make a good meal. I love it even more when it’s Monday night and I’m serving Sally Schneider’s close-roasted pork with ancho, cinnamon, and cocoa. I worked from home today so I could slow roast the pork for four hours at 275F. Then, inspired, I knocked out a little ditty of celery root, apple, thyme, and pork cracklins. Hoooo-wee!
I specify pork cracklins so as not to confuse them with another favorite, duck cracklins, which I made Sunday night and munched this afternoon. I’ll probably have a heart attack soon, but know that I died happy.
I tried to find out where the word “crackling” comes from, but all I came up with was a date: 1599. So it’s an old word, older than my guess about its origins, which had to do with a certain street drug known for its addictive qualities.
Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook is the best cookbook we bought last year. Or was it the year before that? In any case, the pork roast recipe alone is worth the price of admission. It wouldn’t be right to reprint the recipe here, so you’ll either have to buy the book or invite yourself over to dinner sometime.
As a consolation, I’ll try to write a recipe for what I did with the celery root:
Celery Root and Apples ala Crack(lins)
Take a large celery root and cut it in half. Then cut that half into small cubes of about 1/3″. Then cut about 3/4s of a sweet apple such as a honeycrisp into cubes. Cut the pork fat from your roast or other fat source (bacon would work fine) into cubes. Fry the fat over med-high heat until they’re good and browned. Set aside on a paper towel. Fry slivers of a few shallots in the leftover grease until they’re crispy. Set those aside on a paper towel.
Next, toss the celery root cubes into your skillet and coat with the fat. Toss in a pinch of salt. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan and cover it. Let this cook about five minutes. Add the apples and some fresh thyme. When everything is about the toothiness you like, toss in a pat of goat butter and coat all. Correct for seasonings. Garnish with the shallots and crack.
Okay, I’ve never written a recipe before and of course I’ve realized it’s way harder than it looks. Perhaps this is because I think of recipes as “guides,” not scripture. Our motto around the kitchen, which comes from my dad, is “it’s just a guide!”
Here’s Monday night’s dinner:
Pork crack rocks (street value: $15)
Celery Root with Apples