Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop styling by Audrey Davis
Active Time
20 MIN
Total Time
1 HR 45 MIN
Yield
Serves : 6 to 8

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.

How to Make It

Step 1    Make the pesto

Combine basil, tarragon, dill, chives, scallions, thyme, horseradish, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender or food processor. With processor running, drizzle in oil through food chute. Process until mostly smooth.

Step 2    Make the pork

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the loin on a cutting board with the fat cap on the board and the small end facing you. With a very sharp knife, cut the loin lengthwise to within 1/2 inch of bottom of pork, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open the cut pork like a book. Repeat process with each half, being careful to cut to within 1/2 inch of the bottom of the pork but not through. Top butterflied pork with plastic wrap; gently pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin to an even 1/2-inch thickness.

Step 3    

Remove plastic wrap, and discard. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons salt over pork; spread evenly with pesto. Top pesto with prosciutto; sprinkle evenly with Parmesan. Roll meat back into a tight spiral, and, using butcher’s twine, tie roll in 6 places. Season on all sides with pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Step 4    

Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Rub roast with olive oil. Sear, starting fat side down and turning roast occasionally, until roast is evenly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Place skillet in preheated oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted in center reads 135°F, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Let pork rest, lightly tented with aluminum foil, at least 15 minutes. To serve, remove strings, and slice as desired.

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