Julia's Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère and Couvent des Thorins Moulin-à-Vent (#Winophiles)

Today we're cooking with Julia Child and pairing a highly customizable recipe for roast pork with an extremely versatile Cru Beaujolais from Moulin-à-Vent, the "King of  Beaujolais."

Today's wine was provided as a media sample. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Bienvenue chez moi! Today we’re dining with Julia and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Fine, we’re not mastering all of French cooking in one go, but we will enjoy some delicious roasted pork paired with a lovely French wine. 

One of the many brilliant things about the books is that they show how a basic recipe can be customized in many different ways. I know a lot of people that will get tripped on a recipe because they’re missing an ingredient or two. I think the books show that if you understand the basic technique, switching up a few ingredients just gives you a new dish. You can have endless variations by working off a basic master recipe and understanding key techniques.

I will say that understanding how to work your way around the book can take a little getting used to. A master recipe might refer to a few different places, so you might find yourself flipping around a lot to put the pieces together. However, I think it’s worth it in the end once you realize how customizable things are. For example, for this post, I made Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère (grandma-style roast pork) which is a variation on Rôti de Porc Poêlé (casserole-roasted pork) that incorporates potatoes and onions into the original, out of Volume I of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I chose one of the three recommended pork marinades  – Marinade Sèche, which is basically a dry brine. I then topped it with Sauce Nénette, a cream sauce flavored with mustard and tomatoes that is actually indicated for pork chops, but why let that stop you? (Also, it’s essentially just like another sauce in the roast section but with tomato paste added.) I thought the tomato flavor would help the sauce pair better with the wine. 

I could’ve chosen many other routes to go with essentially the same dish. All together there are probably over a couple of dozen different ways the dish could go just based on the options in the book, and once you get down the basics so that you can go off-book, the possibilities are endless. I think this is one of the biggest things one learns from going to a culinary program, and I must say that today’s dish is very similar to how I often cook at home on my own. That said, it’s also nice to do things by the book sometimes, as it gives you a chance to learn new techniques. For example, if I were making this dish under normal circumstances, I would’ve just thrown the potatoes in with the pork halfway through. Adding the extra steps of parboiling and browning the potatoes brought a depth of flavor and a different, creamier texture from how I normally do things. 

Sauce Nénette was a new discovery for me. It’s very rich and a little goes a long way. It’s quite tasty. Afterward, I realized it was basically a fancy version of the “special sauce” that makes fast food burgers taste so good. So yeah, it’s good.

I’ve combined the various recipes I put together in the recipe instructions below as an example of one way to customize things, but I highly recommend perusing the books for more ideas. 

To pair with this highly customizable recipe, I thought I’d choose a wine that’s just about as adaptable as the master recipe – a Beaujolais Cru. The wines of the Beaujolais Crus are among the most versatile out there; that’s their superpower. I’m a big fan and have spotlighted several on this blog before, and I invite you to check out this post for more background on the region as a whole.

I’ve been slowly been making my way through the 10 Crus, and today we’re adding one more: Moulin-à-Vent.


Moulin-à-Vent is one of the most revered of the crus; arguably the most noteworthy of all thanks to its body, ageability, tannic structure, and minerality. Moulin-à-Vent is known for a much more robust and structured expression of Gamay, and the wines can often be aged for 10+ years. For this reason, it is known as the "King of Beaujolais." They’re still not huge wines – most are medium-bodied – but relatively speaking, they’re on the bigger end for Beaujolais. (Morgon and Chénas are the only other crus to rival it.) They can be floral and fruity in youth but often develop more spicy and earthy characteristics with time.

It’s a Cru of contradictions and anomalies. Unlike the other appellations, there isn’t a village named Moulin-à-Vent. The vineyards that make up the appellation are actually located in the villages of Romanèche-Thorins and Chénas, actually reaching into the administrative commune of Chénas, as well as the town itself. (This is confusing, but grapes from those Chénas vineyards can be used for either appellation.) Moulin-à-Vent is at the northern end of the region, and it stretches across both the Rhone and Saone et Loire departments on the western side of the Saone River. In addition to overlapping with Chénas to the north, it has Fleurie as a neighbor to the south.

Map borrowed from WineFolly.com

The soils of the region are the distinctive aspect of the terroir and give the wines their unique minerality. It’s known for pink granite soils with veins of manganese – this special soil is not found in high amounts throughout the rest of Beaujolais. Interestingly, it’s actually toxic to grapevines. It slows the growth of the leaves and the grape bunches, and so the vines produce smaller lower yields of grapes. The grapes that do grow, though, are more highly concentrated, creating more intensely flavored wines than in other parts of Beaujolais. 

Moulin-à-Vent means windmill, and there is actually one there in the midst of the vineyards. It stands 278 meters tall on the hill of Les Thorins. It’s 300 years old and is classified as a historical monument.

Picture borrowed from Moulin-a-vent.net

The Wine & Pairing: Château du Moulin-à-Vent Couvent des Thorins Moulin-à-Vent 2018 with Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère 

100% Gamay |    13% ABV |      Average Price: $27 (Can be found at many Whole Foods)

Image borrowed from the winery's website.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent’s history dates back to 1732 when it was called Château des Thorins. The wines from this hillside developed a reputation for quality early on, as described in this quote from and 1801 Mâcon dictionary I found on the Wilson Daniels’ (the importer) website

Every wine is good with a meal, but a meal can not be enjoyed without Thorins. The merit of this wine is that it is firm, but supple, it has good body but also has lightness, it is ruby colored and transparent, with a flattering nose and a delicate taste. . . 

Jean-Jacques Parinet and his family bought the property in 2009 and they have been investing in updating the winemaking facilities and vineyards, which today encompasses 30 hectares (74.1 acres). His son Edouard is now co-proprietor and has taken the reins as director. 

The grapes for their Couvent des Thorins Moulin-à-Vent come from 40 year old vines in the terroirs of 'la Delatte', 'les Rouchaux', and 'les Maisonneuves,' on an eastern slope just bellow the historical moulin. The vines are farmed organically, with no pesticides or weed-killers. The wine is unfiltered and vegan-compliant with very low doses of sulfur used. The 2018 vintage of the wine saw 40% whole-cluster fermentation and spent 15 months in 100% stainless steel. (You can find additional details here.)

On the day we opened the Couvent des Thorins Moulin-à-Vent 2018  I picked up notes of raspberry, dark cherry, thyme, and flint on the nose. It was medium-bodied on the palate but showed strong granite-like minerality and light tannic grip. It took a few minutes for this wine to open up, so it could be worth decanting it a bit in advance, but then the fruit showed up nicely, along with a pinch of pepper.

The wine worked well with roasted pork. It was a rich dish, but the flavors weren’t particularly robust. This wine walked that tightrope well as it didn’t overpower the flavors and counterbalanced the richness of the dish. It helped to liven up my palate as we ate.

Other Possibilities

As I mentioned earlier, the wines of the Beaujolais Crus are known for being extremely versatile, and this definitely falls into that call. When I received this sample bottle, I also received a booklet of recommended recipes. They are very diverse and all sound delicious. I’m going to drop the list here for additional inspiration:

  • Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Potatoes and Cabbage
  • Butternut Lasagna with Mushrooms and Sage 
  • Coq Au Vin Rouge En Gelée 
  • Roasted Vegetable and White Bean Salad 
  • Butternut Risotto with Leeks
  • Planked Sockeye Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze
  • Pomegranate-Roasted Carrots with Lentils, Labneh, and Zhoug 
  • Simple Slow Roasted Pasture Raised Chicken 
  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary, Parmesan Cream Sauce
  • Roasted Turkey Breast with Rosemary and Garlic
  • Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic, and Sage 
  • Beef Stroganoff   

roast pork
dinner, sauce
Servings: 6 to 8
Adapted by: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère with Sauce Nénette  (Casserole-roasted Pork with Potatoes and Onions with Mustard, Cream, and Tomato Sauce)

Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère with Sauce Nénette (Casserole-roasted Pork with Potatoes and Onions with Mustard, Cream, and Tomato Sauce)

Prep Time: 10 MinCooking Time: 2 H & 30 MTotal Time: 2 H & 40 M
This recipe is adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle.


For the Marinade Sèche (Salt Marinade with Herbs and Spices)
  • Per pound of pork:
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground thyme or sage
  • ⅛ tsp ground bay leaf
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Optional: 1 to 2 cloves mashed garlic
For the Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère
  • Approx 3-lb boneless pork roast, previously marinated
  • 4 Tbsp rendered pork fat, lard, or cooking oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter or other cooking fat, if needed
  • 2 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • Herb bouquet made up of the following tied together with kitchen twine :
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • Bay leaf
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme
  • 12 to 18 (1.5 to 2 lbs) small new, creamer, or “boiling” potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 medium onion, diced OR 12 to 18 peeled white onions 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter (the latter is how it appears in the original recipe)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, for garnish
For the Sauce Nénette
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
  • Pinch of pepper, or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dry English mustard
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley basil, or chervil


For the Marinade Sèche
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and rub them into the surface of the pork. Place in a covered bowl. Turn the meat 2 or 3 times if the marinade is time is on the short side, or several times a day if it is of long duration. Allow the meat to marinade from several hours to a couple of days in advance.
  2. Before cooking, scrape off the majority marinade and pat the meat down thoroughly with paper towels.
For the Rôti de Porc Grand' Mère
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat the fat in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the fat/oil is shimmering, and the pork and sear it on all sides until nicely browned. This will take about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to another plate. (If you skipped marinading the pork, season the pork with salt and pepper.)
  2. Pour all but 2 spoonfuls of fat out of the casserole. (If the rest of the fast is still in good condition, reserve on the side.) If fat has burned, throw it all out and use additional cooking oil or butter instead. Return the pork to the pan with its fattiest side up and add in the herb bouquet and garlic cloves. Cover the casserole/Dutch oven and heat it until the meat is starting to sizzle, then transfer to the lower third of the oven. Roast for about 2 hours, basting the pork periodically with its juices.
  3. During the pork’s first hour of cooking, prep the potatoes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, allow the water to return to a boil, and boil for ½ minute. Drain. Lightly brown the potatoes in a hot skillet using the reserved fat or cooking oil. Season with salt and pepper
  4. If using small whole onions, pierce a cross in the root end of the onions, and boil them in salted water, then drain.
  5. After the pork has been cooked for an hour, arrange the potatoes and onions around it and baste them with the juices in the casserole dish. Cover and return the casserole dish to the oven for another hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 180-185°F, basting the meat and vegetable once or twice.
  6. Remove the pork from the oven and set it aside and allow it to rest. Use a baster to remove the majority of the juices from the pan and transfer to another vessel and degrease them. (See note.) You can either serve these in a gravy boat on the side or use them to make the sauce.
For the Sauce Nénette
  1. While the pork is resting, simmer the cream, salt, and pepper in a saucepan for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it has reduced to about a cup.
  2. Whisk in the mustard and tomato paste, followed by the degreased pork juices, then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the herbs. Place in a gravy boat to serve with the pork.
To Serve
  1. Serve the pork and vegetable in the casserole dish/ Dutch oven, or transfer to a platter and arrange the vegetables around it and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with the sauce on the side.


There are several ways to degrease meat juices. If you have enough time, one of the easiest ways is to chill down the juices. The fat and juices will separate on their own and the fat will solidify on top so that you can then just scrape them off. You can also buy gravy separators, which are essentially measuring cups with a spout that’s set at the bottom so that it pours out the meat juices, eschewing the fat. While it takes longer, you can also skim the fat off the top with a spoon or use a turkey baster to carefully suck the fat layer off the top of the juices.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable

And here are some leftover makeover ideas to use up all of that delicious pork.
In addition, check out these previous pairings for Cru Beaujolais.

Wines from this region are also mentioned in these posts, which also include additional pairings.


The rest of the French Winophiles (#Winophiles) Blogging Group is exploring recipes by Julia Child paired with French Wines. Check out their posts here:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:

This post contains affiliate links, including these Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.



  1. I also love how "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" gives you variations on a recipe - especially helpful with wine pairing. And as Julia always said, be a fearless cook!
    Nice pairing and one I have bookmarked.

  2. I am in love with this post. How fun to learn so much behind the wine and the food.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!