George Mahaffey serves his succulent roast pork with a sweet pear-cider glaze. Pear cider is available at specialty food stores and many farmers' markets, or use apple cider. Although the 10-rib roast is best suited to serve 10 people, Mahaffey has found that it can stretch to serve the unexpected guests that often show up at his house. At carving time, cut down along both sides of each bone. This will produce slightly smaller rib portions and an extra slice of meat between the ribs.
Allow time for the prepared pork to refrigerate overnight before roasting.
Plus: Ultimate Holiday GuideCenterpiece Roasts
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus 4 thyme sprigs
One 10-rib pork loin roast (about 5 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, ribs frenched (see Note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into thick wedges with the root ends left intact
4 medium Bartlett pears—halved, cored and cut into thick wedges
1 1/2 quarts pear cider or apple cider
1/2 small cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
1 whole clove
2 tablespoons minced shallots
30 tiny cherry tomatoes, for garnish
How to Make It
Make 20 small incisions all over the fatty side of the pork roast. Insert a slice of garlic in each slit. Season the meat all over with 2 tablespoons of the thyme leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat the bottom of a very large roasting pan with the olive oil. Set the pork roast in the pan, fat side up, and surround it with the onion wedges. Roast the pork for 45 minutes. Add the pear wedges to the pan, turning them to coat with the drippings. Continue roasting the pork for 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 150°. Set the pork on a large platter and surround it with the roasted pears and onions. Cover with foil.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the pear cider, thyme sprigs, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and clove. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 30 minutes.
Discard the fat from the roasting pan and set the pan over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the reduced pear cider and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Strain the sauce and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
Carve the meat and arrange the chops on a platter. Arrange the roasted pears and onions and the cherry tomatoes around the pork and serve with the pear-cider sauce.
Have your butcher french the bones (scrape the bones clean of meat, fat and gristle).
A Beaujolais Cru like Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly has enough acidity to cut through the sweetness of the pork's pear sauce. Eberle Côtes-de-Rôbles from California, a blend of Rhône varietals with ripe fruit flavors and graceful soft tannins, also marries well with the roast.
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