No Pain, All Gain - Dukkah-spiced Berkshire Pork Roast
According to Ayurvedic tradition, duka means “pain or contact with unpleasant things.” Which is probably why I subconsciously avoided duqqa (or dukkah) spice for a while.
Ancient Indian arts aside, the Egyptian spice blend of dukkah is a wonderful addition to your kitchen. Like a curry, the blend can vary from region to region, and even household to household. But it typically consists of a nut (usually hazelnuts at least) and spice mix. I have a blend listed here, but it’s also available just about everywhere - even Trader Joe’s has it, though the nuts in it are simply almonds. Just be warned that the recipes are all a little different.
Coarse and a bit crunchy, the mix is great blended with a little high-quality olive oil and used to dip crusty bread in. But I went a different route - I used it to coat a Berkshire pork roast.
I’ve mentioned Berkshire pork before, but if you’re not familiar, Berkshire pork is a heritage breed of pig, discovered over 300 years ago in Berkshire County in the United Kingdom. They were specially bred for the King of England for his own personal meat supply, because of the excellence in the meat. It’s renowned for its richness, texture, marbling, juiciness, tenderness and overall depth of flavor, and is often called Kobe beef of pork. You can order from D’Artagnan and a few other places, but I’ve been successful finding it at Janssen’s in Greenville.
If you go to a butcher or Janssen’s to have them cut you a roast, ask for the fatty end, not the lean end. Trust me. The coarse dukkah beautifully complements the rich elements of this type of pork.
3-rib Berkshire pork Roast
3 tablespoons dukkah spice mix
Center a roasting rack in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees.
Score the fat side of the roast in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through the meat, just the fat layer. (It’s hard to tell in the picture at right that I did that, but the spices got into the crevices, which is the point anyway.)
Give the pork a light brush of olive oil.
Dip your finger in the dukkah and taste. If you can taste the salt, you’re set. If you can’t, salt the pork roast and then coat it with the dukkah.
Roast in the oven for ten minutes.
Lower heat to 275. For a slightly pink center, continue to cook the roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the roast reads 145, about 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Be sure the thermometer isn’t sitting on a bone.
Remove pork from oven, but don’t slice right away. Allow the roast to rest for 20 to 30 minutes with a loose tent of foil over top of it.
Transfer to cutting board and carve.
I normally don’t season all the elements on a plate the same way, but do make an exception in this case. I cut garnet yams in half and placed them upside down in the pan while I roasted the pork. The juices from the pork and the spice mix were perfect on it and we ended up dipping the green beans in it when we ate.
My son has described Berkshire pork as “the best thing he’s ever had in his mouth.” You will pay a premium, that’s for sure, but treat yourself if you can - it’s completely worth it.
Skip your buttery Chardonnay - try a La Crema Pinot Noir with this - inexpensive and really pleasant with the richness of the meat. If you choose a white, make sure it has a decent acidity to it.
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
2 tablespoons cashews or macadamias, toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
½ tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon dried mint
¼ teaspoon sugar
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional