In my effort to fully embrace autumn, I'm keeping up with my recent trend of preparing seasonally-appropriate recipes. This latest creation is inspired by the October 2011 cover of Bon Apetit magazine:
I saw this beautiful stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped pork loin and I immediately decided I had to have it. I ended up making my own version of this dish that's probably a bit easier than the original. And I'll admit it, it's a pretty impressive dinner!
Before we get started, let's deal with a few things. First, the pork issue. I know some people don't eat pork and I know some people have eaten pork, but don't think they like it. If you're open to the idea of eating pork, but you don't think you like it, may I suggest that you may be the victim of too many over-cooked pork dishes? I've experienced more dry, gray-ish, chewy, poorly seasoned pork than I care to remember. There's a huge difference between lean, juicy, properly cooked, properly seasoned pork and dry, under (or over) seasoned, chewy, fatty pork. I want you to have a positive experience with cooking pork tenderloin (or loin), so I'm offering some suggestions.
First, follow a good recipe and season your meat properly. For me this means using kosher salt and fresh herbs as either a rub or a brine. I've posted several pork recipes that use these techniques and I promise they are all good and they will make you a culinary rock star if you can follow the instructions. Brined Pork Loin is almost guaranteed to be juicy and well-seasoned. Roasted Pork Loin with Herbs and Garlic is a great choice if you don't have time to brine. Stuffed Pork Loin is a great choice once you gain some pork loin confidence. The recipe I'm sharing today falls somewhere in the middle in terms of difficulty. It doesn't require any advanced planning, but you have to be skilled enough to wrap pork with pork. It's not difficult at all, but it does require a few extra minutes.
Second, do not overcook your pork. Buy a meat thermometer. You can get one for less than $10 at most stores and it's well worth the investment. Why ruin $15 worth of meat because you couldn't tell the internal temperature? Cook with confidence and use a meat thermometer.
Finally, let the pork rest before serving, but don't let it rest in a hot oven! You definitely want to let pork rest 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving, otherwise you'll lose all of the seasoned juices from the meat. What you don't want to do is put the pork back in a warm oven to "rest" before serving. It will continue to cook and will be in danger of turning gray and chewy... not good.
Okay, on to today's recipe, Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin! I just happened to have 1/4 pound (4 ounces) of proscuitto in my refrigerator. You can probably find this in the deli section of your grocery store. Mine was with the pre-sliced, pre-packaged meats.
I almost always have both pork loin and pork tenderloin in my freezer. I'm obsessed. Plus, there's a big difference between the sale price and the regular price for pork tenderloin, so when it goes on sale, stock up! I chose pork tenderloin for this recipe because it's thinner and smaller (sold in packs of 2, each loin is about 1 pound). It cooks pretty quickly, so the proscuitto doesn't burn while you're waiting for the pork to finish roasting.
The first few steps can be done in advance... maybe the day (or morning) before serving. If you break this recipe down, it's not difficult at all.
Rub the pork with the herbs and spices...
Wrap the pork in prosciutto. Tie the prosciutto to the pork using butcher's twine (this isn't fancy stuff, you can find it at most grocery stores and it costs about $2)...
Place the pork atop an assortment of root vegetables and fall fruits (I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pears... carrots and onions would also be great).
Roast the pork until done (about 40 minutes). The vegetables will likely need to roast for closer to an hour, so just remove the pork and let the veggies keep cooking. Everything will be at perfect serving temperature when the vegetables are done.
Serve with a green vegetable, like Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. Invite a few friends over, 'cause this meal will serve 4-6 people. We invited my mom to dinner and enjoyed this fabulous meal with a bottle of apple cranberry wine from Vermont... you know, that trip to Vermont that I still haven't got around to blogging? (Coming soon, I promise!) It was so good that my husband thought he had forgotten an anniversary or my birthday! This is an impressive meal, people!
It goes without saying that I probably wouldn't make this on a weeknight. The hands on prep took me about 45 minutes and the roasting took another hour. However, this meal is really impressive in both taste and presentation, so I highly recommend it for a Sunday dinner or a small dinner party. I also like that it's served family-style, so you just bring this beautiful masterpiece to the table and let people go to town!
I can't think of a better way to use my favorite cut of meat and some fresh herbs that are still alive in my garden. I just made a classic even better... give this one a try!
Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Special equipment: butcher's twine for tying the pork (you can find this at any kitchen supply store and many grocery stores), a large roasting pan (although any broad pan that will allow the veggies to spread out without touching will work)
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond Kosher Salt. If you use another brand, use less salt!)
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped rosemary (about 3 sprigs)
2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
extra virgin olive oil
about 1 1/2 pounds root vegetables and fruit for roasting (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, and pears are an excellent combination), chopped into 2" pieces
In a small bowl (or the bowl of a mini food processor) mix garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Rub this spice paste on the pork.
Carefully wrap the pork with the slices of proscuitto. Secure the prosciutto to the pork by tying it with the twine.
Line roasting pan with foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if it has a "roast" setting or "convection roast" setting, use it).
Place chopped vegetables on the line roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. The vegetables should be spread out enough that they are not crowded on the pan. This will allow them to cook evenly.
Place the prepared pork loin on top of the vegetables. Roast in a preheated oven until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees (start checking your roast at 30-35 minutes). Do not overcook.
The pork may be cooked before the vegetables are finished roasting. If this is the case, remove the pork from the oven and place it on a cutting board. Continue to cook the vegetables while the pork rests for 15-20 minutes. After the pork rests, gently remove the twine (I used scissors), slice and serve with hot vegetables.