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Tuscan Pork Roast November 7, 2008

Posted by Toy Lady in Food, food porn.
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I decided to take a couple of vacation days last week in order to get some stuff done around the house.

See, here’s the thing. I’ve been working for Mon CapitΓ‘n doing, uh, legal things for many, many years. One of the advantages of working in the same job for a long time is lots and lots of vacation time. πŸ˜€

One of the down-sides of working for lawyers, even one lone lawyer, is not wanting to leave them alone for long enough to take a real vacation. πŸ™„ So essentially, what I end up doing is taking a day here and a day there, depending on my calendar and how busy the office is in general.

So where was I? Oh yeah. Taking a couple of days off. You know, there’s really nothing like a 4-day weekend to show you just how attractive a life of leisure would really be, is there? πŸ˜‰

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One of the things I wanted needed to do was find something to do with the fennel we got such a great deal on at the market. After all, it’s not such a great deal if it rots in the bottom of the refrigerator, is it? 😦

I love this stuff, I’ve gotta tell you. Peeps – he’s not such a fan, unfortunately. I could be philosophical and say, “hey, more for me” but, honestly, it’s not much fun cooking cool stuff if you’re the only one eating it, is it? πŸ˜•

But hey, we all do what we have to, right? Oh well. And he just doesn’t know what he’s missing, that’s all. yummy.gif

So anyway, anyone can braise fennel, and, frankly, I don’t have any problem with it. But what do you do with the fennel? πŸ˜•

Well, how about a Tuscan-style roast pork? After all, if their wines are any indication, Tuscany is a great place to eat. And my wine-and-food theorem tells me that if the wine is good, the food kicks ass. πŸ˜‰

And we have a couple of boneless pork loin roasts just knocking around in the freezer, so why not, right?

We’re going to roll this roast, so the first thing I do is butterfly it.

PhotobucketIf you’ve never butterflied, I think a boneless pork loin is just about the easiest place to start.

Just start like you’re going to cut the roast in thirds, and don’t cut all the way through – leave about an inch or so to open it out. Then, starting at that cut edge, cut the other third, and open that out, so you have a long-ish sheet of pork. Just don’t cut all the way through, that’s all. A good, sharp knife is great for this – makes it almost effortless.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do to describe it. Next time I’ll do a better job taking pictures. πŸ™„

Anyway, we’ve got the roast butterflied, but in order to ensure tenderness, we’re also going to brine the meat. Modern pork loin is so lean, it needs all the help it can get to retain its moisture. πŸ˜€ Try saying that 3 times fast – out loud – pork loin is lean, pork loin is lean, pork loin is lean! πŸ˜†

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In a large container (one that will fit in your refrigerator!), dissolve in 6 cups hot tap water:

  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 10 cloves of peeled garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup dried rosemary

Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, add about 8-10 cups of ice to cool down the brine, then toss the meat in to season, 2-3 hours. If you’re going to leave it much longer than that, cut down on the salt – a lot. It really does permeate the meat after that. Go ahead, ask me how I know. πŸ™„

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I know. It kind of looks like that scene in Independence Day where Data is showing off the aliens, doesn’t it? 😯

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Don’t worry about it, though. Just shove it in the fridge and go take a nap. (Or go to the range, which is actually what we did.)

In the meantime, you can also prep your pork rub and fennel and what-have-you. πŸ™‚

Trim as many fennel bulbs as you’re going to be using, reserving a couple of fronds. Alas, I only used one, but you could do two or three if you’re so inclined. Cut the fennel lengthwise into about 1/4-inch slices, toss with a little olive oil, and set aside.

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For the rub, stir together in a small bowl:

  • the reserved fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • another 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, chopped (minced, ground, whatever) (what, you didn’t think we were just going to rely on fresh fennel for the flavor, did you?)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • just a pinch of kosher salt

Stir together to form a paste, then just set it aside – it won’t look like much, but it’s going to be so packed with flavor, you’ll be friffin’ amazed!

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After the proper brining time, take your meat out of the brine and dump the brine. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325Β°. Rinse and pat dry the pork, then rub the, uh, spice rub onto the inside (cut side) of the roast. Roll the roast up and tie in two or three places, essentially so it stays together and doesn’t spill its guts all over the roasting pan and burn. 😯

Brown the roast in an oiled oven-safe pan. Yum, maillard. Use a big pan – you’re going to want enough room for everything. πŸ™‚

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Remove the roast, and deglaze the pan with about 1/3 cup of dry white wine. Where would a nice pork roast be, after all, without a little dry white wine? Return the meat to the pan, and tuck the reserved fennel alongside. I stuck some potatoes, also tossed with oil, on the other side of the roast, but I don’t necessarily recommend that. The potatoes, because they were kind of tightly shoved in there, took longer to cook than the rest of the stuff did, and, as it turned out, I ended up nuking them for an additional 5 minutes or so. Not bad, and they had a nice flavor, to be sure, but still. Next time, I’d either use an actual roasting pan, or par-cook the potatoes. Or both, more likely.

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Roast for about an hour – hour and a quarter. If you need to, you could add a little water if things look like they’re scorching. When you check the temperature of the roast, which I know you will, the center should register about 135Β° when you take it out of the oven. Relax. πŸ™‚ Transfer the meat to a cutting board, and tent loosely with foil. Carryover, you know. πŸ™‚ If you need to, you can shove the veggies back in the oven to finish cooking.

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After about 15 minutes, the center of the loin will read about 145Β°, which, while not the cooked-to-death pork of years gone by, is perfectly safe. πŸ™‚ And, to be honest, delightfully tasty and perfectly moist, too. Look how juicy that is – and almost no fat!

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And, since we used a 2+ pound roast, there was plenty left over for sandwiches. And they made a yummy lunch, too, let me tell you. πŸ™‚

Comments

1. judy - November 8, 2008

YUMMY SOUNDING AND looks good too. My mom used to make something similar though made with veal. She called them veal birds. Rolled meat with a filling is always impressive!

Good stuff as usual. I hope you have recovered from your “mini vacation.”

Have a good week and I will look forward to Monday Musings.

judy

2. Toy Lady - November 9, 2008

Hey, Judy, I’ve heard of veal birds, though I’ve never had them. But as you said, roulades are always impressive – and really, once you get the hang of it, they’re usually pretty simple. πŸ™‚

Gotta teach Surly Boy how to make chicken cordon bleu, I think – while not exactly rolled, really, it’s close enough. And it seems to be something he likes. . . πŸ˜€


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