Rack of pork – the loin including the rib bones – makes an excellent family roast when topped with a savory breadcrumb mixture that cooks to be brown and crisp. The topping sticks to the meat surface thanks to a brushing with Dijon mustard, which can be mild or hot, according to your taste. Dijon, or any French mustard, is perfect for cooking as the flavor is so complex.  Please take your pick of mustard from Dijon that has a clean, sharp taste, smooth and mild Bordeaux mustard, and mustard from Meaux that is dark and rougher in texture as it includes seeds and skin. The pork is just as delicious served cold as it is hot.

Serves 6-8

  • 1.5kg/3-4lb pork loin, with rib bones
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • For the Topping
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 5-6 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 85g/3oz/¾ cup dry browned breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoonsDijonmustard
  • For the Gravy
  • 250ml/8fl oz/1 cup medium dry white wine
  • 375ml/12fl oz/1½ cups veal or chicken stock

1. Heat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Trim any excess fat from pork. If necessary, scrape the rib bones clean (see Sidebar). Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a roasting pan and brown the fat-covered surface of the pork over medium heat, taking 5-7 minutes. Set the roast ribs down and roast it in the oven, basting occasionally, 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile make the topping: Melt the butter and sauté the garlic and shallots until soft and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cumin and paprika and continue cooking 1 minute. Take from the heat and stir in the parsley and breadcrumbs.

3. After 30 minutes’ cooking, brush the surface of the pork with the mustard and spread it with the topping, pressing so it forms a crust. Turn down the oven heat to 190ºC/375°F/Gas 5. Continue roasting the meat without basting for another 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center of the meat is hot to the touch when withdrawn. A meat thermometer should register 72ºC/165°F. Transfer the meat to a platter and cover it loosely with foil.

4. For the gravy: Add the wine to the roasting pan and simmer, stirring to dissolve pan juices, until the wine is reduced almost to a glaze. Add the stock and simmer until well-flavored, 2 minutes or longer if necessary. Strain the gravy into a small pan, reheat it and taste for seasoning. For serving, carve the pork at table, cutting vertically down between the rib bones to form chops. Serve the gravy separately.

Getting Ahead: By all means prepare the pork and topping ahead, but the meat must be freshly roasted if you are serving it hot.

On the Side: My favorite accompaniment for almost any roast meat is potatoes, pan roasted in the oven with the meat and perfect with the pan gravy. If you prefer to serve the pork cold, I would add a salad of root vegetables such as beets, root celery, or simply potatoes, dressed in an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

In the Glass: To partner mustard fromDijon, a Pinot Noir would be in order, perhaps from Oregon, South Africa, or Chile instead of Burgundy itself.

From Good Food No Fuss by Anne Willan, 2003

Photo CREDIT: Simon Wheeler