4 September 2014

Rolled Pork Loin with Pancetta & Oregano

There are many things you can do with a piece of pork that are delicious: cook it with apples and cider, slow roast it with tomatoes and beans italian style, or spice it up for pulled pork tacos. Endless opportunity. However, sometimes the simplest things are the best. Thats why Nigella's pork with pancetta and oregano is one of my all time favourite roasts. There is little else you can do that ticks all the boxes.    

And unlike a lot of other recipes, you still get the best bit: crackling!

  • 1.5kg boneless pork loin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • bunch fresh oregano
  • 100g pancetta/proscuitto/parma ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 60ml dry white vermouth (or dry white wine)
  • 60ml boiling water
If buying from a butcher, ask them if they could cut off the rind (leaving a layer of fat) and butterfly (Nigella says: 'open up like a book') the pork for you as you'd like to stuff it. Make sure you bring the rind home for crackling!

If you are buying from a supermarket, you will have to do this yourself, but I assure you its simple enough though a little fiddly. Find a piece thats roughly 1.5kg, and when you get it home cut off the strings and using a sharp knife cut off the rind leaving a layer of fat to keep it moist. Go slow and steady, with short strokes of the knife along the cut line rather than trying to saw through it all at once. Set the rind aside and set to work butterflying the meat. There is no art to this and you will see where you should be cutting on the meat (though there is no right or wrong really) to make it open out "like a book". Lay it out with the thick side of the loin on the left (or right if you are left-handed) and using the same short, sharp motions cut through the thick section so you can lay it out flat.  

These next steps are for all.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Take your pork and lay it out. Mince the garlic and spread over the pork, followed by leaves from the oregano and the pancetta. If using, sprinkle over the chilli flakes. Roll up the pork as tight as you can and tie with kitchen string. Again, there is no art to this (well, there is, but its a bit of a lost art and there really is no necessity to tie it up properly as the butcher does). Make a knot at 3-4cm intervals.

Cut the onion (skin on) into thick slices - I cut it in whole rounds rather than wedges - and lay in a large baking dish. Add some oregano leaves, then sit the pork on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes (more or less depending on the size of your pork). A meat thermometer should read 71-75C. 

Once done, remove from the oven to a heat-proof surface. Lift out the pork and leave to rest. Add the boiling water and vermouth/wine to the tray, scraping about to dislodge anything and combine to make your 'gravy'. 

To serve, slice the pork thickly (discarding the string) and drizzle over some gravy. Nigella recommends serving this on a bed of rocket leaves with green beans and creamy semolina/polenta/mashed potato. I like the potato, especially when its mashed with mascarpone, for this. Though feel free to serve alongside traditional roast vege. No one could be disappointed either way.