I recently attended an evening of cocktails that somehow left me with an almost-full bottle of Noilly Prat dry vermouth. The staff makes an excellent dirty martini (or filthy martini, depending on how much olive brine you add), but then if I finished the entire bottle only making martinis, it’d be awesome I shudder to think of my condition. Instead, I thought it’d be fun to cook with it since it has a lovely fragrant flavor.
It actually makes a great alternative to white wine in many recipes but worked superbly with this pork leg. Great for a lazy Sunday, especially since you now have a bottle of Noilly Prat in your possession and this means you’re going to make a good martini. Or several. What else are you going to do while that pork cook? Follow the recipe closely to see how…
- 1 pork leg (deboned)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3/4 cup Noilly Prat dry vermouth
- 1 bag green olives
- two handfuls of baby potatoes
- handful small radishes
- 1 can white beans
- 1 handful of green beans
- 1 handful fresh thyme, picked
- olive oil
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- Set the oven to maximum temperature with the broiler element on. Then, while you’re waiting for that to heat up, mix yourself a dirty martini. You deserve one, just for trying a dish as great as this. Fill a shaker with ice, pour in two measures of vodka (Finlandia is a good one), 1/4 a measure of Noilly Prat, and a 1/4 measure of olive brine. (If you want to go filthy, mash up two green olives and add this too.) Stir well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with three olives on a toothpick. Aah, civility.
- Back to work. Rub the pork shoulder in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place pork in casserole dish under broiler, and brown on each side. Keep an eye on it, as you don’t want to blacken it – we’re not cooking Cajun here. Use kitchen tongs or a serving fork to rotate the shoulder in the dish, without removing it from the oven.
- This should take about 15 minutes, by which time your martini will be finished. Feel free to mix another one. But first, remove the dish from the oven and turn the oven temperature to 150′C with the element off. Mix the chicken stock, Noilly Prat, thyme, and half of the olives together. Splash in a bit of the olive brine too. Pour over the pork, and baste well. The pork should now be sitting in a ‘bath’ of the marinade. Place dish in the oven and let cook for 4 hours, turning every hour.
- Add the baby potatoes, radishes, white beans, green beans and replace them in the oven. Cook another 2 hours. While it’s cooking these last few hours, you should have invited guests to join you in exploring how best to enjoy a martini. This is a most fun way to pass the time, and highly intellectual, of course. Churchill, Hemingway, Faulkner, and others attested to this. You can experiment with the ratio of Noilly Prat to vodka. You can also see how dirty you like yours. Purists won’t add brine to their martini at all, but they don’t know what they’re missing. Besides, with the brine addition, it makes it a lot easier to enjoy. But don’t forget the pork: remember to mix the vegetables in the marinade and turn the pork every so often in between exercising your inner James Bond.
- Once the two hours are up, serve immediately, spooning the rich and tasty marinade (which has plenty of pork fat in it now) over the meat. You can continue to drink martinis with the meal, but you might find yourself so plastered you can’t taste the great food you’ve cooked, something of a tragedy. I’d rather recommend a good bottle of Riesling, something dry with good acidity and minerality.