Photo courtesy of Brian Leatart
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A rack of pork is the pork equivalent of a standing beef rib roast or rack of lamb and it makes a stunning centerpiece for a special meal. It is really nothing more than a pork rib roast whose bone tips have been scraped and exposed, or, as butchers would say, "Frenched". Racks are generally available during the holiday season and they can be special ordered at any time of year. They are really easy to prepare and that makes them a wonderful choice for a holiday meal. I found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and I recommend it to you without reservation. I do, however, have to warn you that it is expensive to prepare. The pork can be purchased with a pauper's purse but the morel mushrooms are worth a king's ransom and you need 4 cups of them. If ever you want to splurge, you might want to consider this dish. If you find the chops to be too large for a single serving, the ribs can easily be cut away, but do let your guests see the roast before you perform the surgery. The slender racks that are seen in magazines are hard to come by and chances are you'll want to do some carving prior to serving. The mushroom sauce can be prepared a day or two before it's needed and that greatly simplifies holiday meal preparation. I think you'll find this dish to be as luscious as it is luxurious. Here's how the racks are made.
Rack of Pork with Morel Mushroom Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine
Morel Mushroom Sauce
2 ounces dried whole morel mushrooms (about 4 cups)
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons brandy
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
Reserved pork roasting pan with juices
1 cup slightly sweet sherry (such as Dry Sack)
3 large garlic cloves
2 shallots, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 8-bone racks of pork (each 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 pounds), chine bone cut off
1) Combine morels and 2 cups boiling water in 8x8x2-inch glass dish. Let soak until mushrooms soften, stirring occasionally, at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to small bowl; reserve soaking liquid. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté 3 minutes. Add brandy and shake pan until brandy has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and cream. Slowly pour in mushroom soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind in bowl. Add mushrooms. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 30 minutes.
2) Chop garlic and quartered shallots in mini processor. Scrape down bowl. Add next 5 ingredients; blend until paste forms.
3) Arrange roasts, bone side down, on work surface. Make 6 to 8 shallow slits in fat on each. Rub some of herb paste into slits. Rub remaining herb paste all over roasts. Stand roasts in large roasting pan, bone sides facing each other and rib bones pointing upward. Interlock ends of rib bones, pushing roasts together. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Uncover; let stand 2 hours at room temperature before continuing.)
4) Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Roast until thermometer inserted into pork from center of top registers 140 degrees F, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let pork rest 20 to 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees; meat will be faintly pink).
5) Transfer roasts, still interlocked, to platter; reserve roasting pan with juices for sauce. Cut between ribs into chops. Serve with mushroom pan sauce.
6) Pour all pan juices from roasting pan into small bowl. Spoon off fat from top; pour juices into mushroom base in saucepan. Place roasting pan over 2 burners set at medium heat. Pour in Sherry. Boil 1 minute, scraping up browned bits; pour into mushroom base. Boil sauce until reduced to 3 cups, about 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Serve with pork. Yield: 12 servings.
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