Roast Leg of Pork with Black-Eyed Peas and Candied Sekel Pears

What an incredibly easy, inexpensive, and delicious cut of pork for a dinner party or buffet! A roast leg of pork eaten cold the next day, in sandwiches with mango chutney, makes cold roast turkey (even with stuffing in the sandwiches) pale in comparison. And the pork makes great hash.

As always with pork, the secret here is brining, which can be a bit of a problem in most refrigerators with a big leg, so buy one that is 8 to 10 pounds.

I love the flavor of fresh turmeric (Curcuma longa), and use it here to flavor and color the sweet pears. If you use the powdered turmeric, then as with all spices, ground or whole, use only the freshest.

Ingredients

  • 8–10 pounds fresh leg of pork (“fresh ham”) with skin on
  • 2 gallon wet brine
  • ½ cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 5 Seckel or Bartlett pears, halved, oven-dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, peeled, pureed in 2 tablespoons water (or 1 teaspoon powdered)
  • 4 cups fresh black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Brine the leg for 24 hours refrigerated (or iced).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wipe the leg dry, and score the skin just down to the fat layer, in a 1-inch grid. Rub in at least 2 tablespoons of black pepper and the sage leaves.

Put the pork in a pan and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook about 20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature is 140. Fifteen minutes before the baking is finished, turn the oven back up to 425 degrees, crisping the skin to make “cracklings.” Remove the pork and let it rest on a platter on the door of the turned-off oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 1 cup water into the roasting pan, and simmer while scraping the pan. Put the pears in a pan and sprinkle with the turmeric. Sieve the pan juices and pour over the pears. Simmer for 10 minutes while basting the pears.

Boil the peas in 4 quarts of salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and put in a saucepan with the chicken stock. Simmer the peas for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the sour cream and the two zests, and stir until incorporated. Season the peas with a little salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper.

Slice the pork leg, and serve it with the peas and pear halves, spooning any pear juices over the pork.

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