Valentine’s Day is nipping at our heels and – eureka! – I know what I’m making my beloved. Ta da! Well, for him as well as for the culmination of our union, two growing gremlins otherwise known as Alexia & Kira. I’ve tested it and…did I already shriek eureka???…it’s a winner. Surprisingly, I nailed it on my first try.
I don’t know about all of you, but it usually takes me about 2 to 3 tries to get a dish right… especially when it’s more complicated than…say, a spaghetti aglio olio.
There’s always so many things to calibrate, you know? Before we know it, we discover that our favorite skillet didn’t brown a piece of meat the way we would have wanted it and that the next time we’ll try the Dutch oven to see if we get better results. Or we determine that 6 cups of milk is really too much in that broccoli and cauliflower au gratin, in part because now that we look at them in the baking dish, they look like floating survivors of the ill-fated Titanic. And the whole while, we take notes. For the next time…when we hope to taste the sweetness of culinary triumph.
Yes, all those little wonderful discoveries that transport us, step by step, to something downright remarkable on our plates…The very same discoveries that were apparently not necessary for this particular pork roll.
Somehow, the stars, moon, tides and my cooking aptitude were all aligned in one magical morning to deliver this savory and moist pork roll. It was served with its accompanying aromatic condiment, which seasoned some delicate tagliolini marvelously without overwhelming them.
Best of all, they were a complete hit with the girls. I usually know I have a keeper when the girls, usually loud and rambunctious at the table, stop talking all of a sudden and seem to be focusing on their chewing.
The second sign was when my little one, NOT my older Alexia who is so courageous with her fork and spoon, asked me if there was enough to pack her some for lunch the following day.
Yes, I’ll definitely be making this in 10 days. I hope my mighty, mighty good man likes it as much as his gals did.
making pork roll with prosciutto & sage
Prep a nice cut of 3 lb. pork loin by removing its white membrane.
Do so by using a sharp kitchen knife. Just start trimming it until it’s all gone.
And looks like this…
Then either roll cut or butterfly it, as you prefer. To learn how to do either one, check out this super clear YouTube video. As you’ll see, they are both quite easy to do.
Once cut, pound it out until it’s about ¾ of an inch thick. Do so carefully, to prevent tearing holes in the pork. When finished, it will look like a rectangle. Spread out 4 oz. of very thinly sliced prosciutto, leaving a 2-inch border on one of the two narrower ends.
Now add 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, 5 finely chopped fresh sage leaves, and 5 thinly sliced pepperazzi on top of the prosciutto.
If you’ve never heard of pepperazzi, they are round, squat sweet peppers native to Peru. Here they are.
They look like giant, hollowed out cherry tomatoes, don’t they? You can usually find them in the olive bar section of most supermarkets. Alternatively, you can use 1 thinly sliced roasted red pepper if you can’t find the pepperazzi.
Starting at the end without the 2-inch border left uncovered, start rolling the pork very carefully.
Tie up with kitchen string by swivelling several pieces of kitchen string around the bottom of the pork roll and then positioning them at equal intervals for the entire length of the roll.
Heat 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large, shallow pan on medium-high heat.
When the butter has stopped foaming, indicating that its water content has evaporated, carefully add the roll. (Immediately before adding the roll, rub it with paper towels to ensure the surface is completely dry or it won’t brown well.)
Brown on all sides until it is nice and golden. Dash it with a little sea or Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper as you do this. This should take around 7-8 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of white, dry wine, reduce the heat to medium and cover.
Make sure to brown even both ends of the roll.
Cook for 40 minutes, turning the meat frequently. (I usually set the timer for 5 minutes between turns, just to keep me honest.) As you turn the roll, continue to add an additional 2/3 cup of white, dry wine. At the very end of its cooking time, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and allow to cook for a couple more minutes. Measure the internal temperature of the roll with a meat thermometer. It needs to read 160°F to 165°F. I don’t like to take chances with pork not being fully cooked.
During the last 20 minutes of cooking time for the roll, prepare a large pot of boiling water to cook the pasta. Add a generous handful of Kosher salt.
Once cooked, take the pan with the roll off the stove and allow the roll to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. As the roll rests, add 200 grams of tagliolini or angel hair to the boiling water. It usually turns out to be half of a 450 gram box of pasta. Stir the pasta pot for the first minute after adding the pasta. It’s all you need to do to prevent it from sticking to each other. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally and using the box directions as a guide, until it’s nice and firm, or al dente. Follow the progress closely the last few minutes to ensure you don’t overcook it. Drain the pasta well.
Place the pork roll on a cutting board, remove the strings and carve the roll into ½ to ¾ inch slices. Reserve a few tablespoons of the pork condiment and then add the cooked pasta to the pot where the pork has been cooked. Mix to ensure all the pasta is generously coated with the condiment. Arrange pasta on a plate, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and then place pork slices on top. Spoon out a tablespoon of roast condiment on each pork roll slice. Serve immediately. Makes 4 generous servings, plus plenty of pork roll leftover for lunch the next day, which you will definitely want.