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Cooking with JoJo: Iron out your fresh dinner plans

Joey Morasse • Dec 12, 2017 at 9:52 PM

Cast-iron cookware is something every household should have. From skillets to muffin pans to the Dutch oven for stews, cast iron, in my opinion, beats all other cookware. 

When seasoned properly and oiled after each cleaning, the surface will become more and more non-stick without the toxins of other types of coating, and it fortifies your food with iron, a bonus health benefit.

For this recipe, I wanted to elevate the traditional rustic “skillet” dish by using an herb-crusted pork roast surrounded by vegetables and a touch of balsamic vinegar. The end result is a meal that is filling and full of flavors that range from sweet, savory, salty and a hint of sour.

What you’ll need: 

• 1.5-2-pound pork roast, boneless with the fat on.

For the herb crust, mix the following in a bowl and transfer to a plate:

• 2 tbsp. dried thyme.

• 2 tbsp. dried oregano.

• 2 tbsp. dried basil.

• 1 tbsp. ground sage.

• 1 tsp. salt.

• 1 tsp. pepper.

For the vegetable mix, you’ll need:

• 4 stalks of celery.

• 1 medium onion.

• 2 green bell peppers.

• 1 pound of Brussels sprouts.

• ½ pound of baby carrots.

• 2 large white or sweet potatoes.

• 3 cloves of garlic.

• ¼ cup balsamic vinegar.

Rub the roast with olive oil to help the herb mixture stick. Roll on all sides and ends to coat the roast completely and set aside. Keep any of the leftover herbs to be added over the vegetables before baking. 

Roughly chop the vegetables except the Brussels sprouts, leaving them whole, cutting off only the rough ends. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables and dust with herb mixture. Rough chopping them will not only add to the rustic beauty of the dish, but will also help them to slow roast without overcooking while keeping the pork moist. 

With a cast-iron skillet on medium high, add a drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom and sear the pork on all sides and ends. Once browned, remove skillet from heat and situate the roast in the center of the skillet and evenly distribute the veggies on all sides. Add the balsamic around the outer edge of the pan. As it cooks, the juice from the roast and veggies will blend with the vinegar and will develop a rich sweetness with a hint of sour. 

Set your oven on 285 degrees and roast for about an hour and a half. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven. Make sure the veggies are fork tender and the roast is firm to the touch or has an internal temperature of 160 degrees. 

After removing the skillet, allow it to cool briefly and slice the roast in quarter-inch-thick slices served atop the vegetables and drizzled with pan juices. Enjoy.

Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes.

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