When I was younger, one of my favorite things was any kind of “stuffed” food. Stuffed chicken breasts. Stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed peppers, grape leaves, pork. You get the idea.
There was something magical about cutting into one thing only to find something altogether different on the inside. Alas, many stuffed foods have been consigned to the “old-fashioned” category. But I’m convinced they deserve to return to the table.
Picture a stuffed chicken breast (like this delicious recipe
stuffed with couscous and Moroccan spices), cut into rounds that show off the multicolored stuffing inside, fanned across the plate—I’m pretty sure no one would reject that as dated. Or how about beautiful, deep green Swiss chard leaves (like this recipe
from Justin Chapple) filled with a wildly savory ground pork and rice stuffing, just begging to be eaten.
But today I have a recipe for you that could hardly be easier or less intimidating—stuffed pork loin. It’s easy enough to make for your family on a Tuesday night and beautiful enough to save for guests on Saturday.
Pork loin, not to be confused with the much smaller tenderloin, is fairly lean, very inexpensive, and easy to work with. And the best part: it requires only three very simple cuts to butterfly it in preparation for stuffing. (See my recipe below for specific directions.)
The stuffing is an herb pesto, which can be changed depending on what’s in season or what you have available in your refrigerator that you need to use up. My recipe leans on tarragon, chives, basil, parsley, scallions, and lemon zest to form a light, bright pesto that will flavor the loin from the inside. But feel free to use whatever you have on hand. No scallions? Use a couple of tablespoons of minced onion. For the herbs, use a mix of whatever you have on hand that’s green and soft, like arugula or even kale; you’ll need about 2½ to 3 cups of leafy, flavorful greens. (You could even substitute about ½ to ¾ cup store-bought pesto, in a pinch.) For a bit of luxury, I’ve added some prosciutto, but feel free to omit it or use whatever thinly sliced cured meat you have around.
All you’ll need to do is open up the pork loin, pound it to an even thickness, salt the meat, paint it with the pesto, top the pesto with the prosciutto and cheese, roll it back up, tie it, and roast it. The whole procedure takes about an hour, and the results are delicious—and anything but outdated.