Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Paleo Porchetta

For some reason I really like the idea of cooking meat in rolls.  It seems so much more interesting than just cooking a slab of meat.  Today, I'm reviewing a Porchetta recipe I found one day while mindlessly surfing around YouTube   While this website is not paleo, the recipe itself is and Gianni is just fun to watch.  I'm fascinated by people who seem to just hold recipes in their head.  I love that there was a video of him cooking this especially since I had to reference it as I cooked to clarify some of the ingredient amounts.  

First, I gathered my ingredients and preheated my oven to 425 F.  

The first step is to make the herb paste that will be spread on the butterflied pork loin.  The recipe calls for 2 sprigs of Italian flat parsley.  I knew from watching the video that wouldn't be enough.  I brought my laptop into the kitchen and watched.  It looked to me that he used about 1.5 cups amount.  

To make this easier, I decided to use my mini chopper to make the paste rather than hand chop everything as Gianni does.  I then used the video to approximate the amount of the rosemary and sage I needed for the paste.  If you look at his sage in the video, the leaves are huge and mine were tiny.  I used about double the leaves his recipe recommends.  I also approximated my rosemary using the video.  I stripped my rosemary off the stem because the stems can be woody and I thought it might help the texture of the finished dish.  I also accidentally used double the garlic.  I love garlic, so I didn't see this as really a mistake, per se.  

I pulsed my mini chopper until it was a fine chop.  Again, I was thankful for his demonstration video.  

I poured the paste into a bowl and added about a teaspoon (the amount directed) until the herb/garlic mixture had the consistency of a paste. 

I spread the paste on the opened pork loin.  He does this on butcher paper.  The butcher paper my grocer used was kinda soggy, so I used a piece of fresh freezer paper.  I think I approximated his herb amounts pretty well.  I had just enough for a even layer across the pork loin. I then tightly rolled my pork loin into a roll.

As directed, I rolled my pork loin so that any fat would end up on the outside of the roll.  This way the fat will melt over your roll while it cooks.  I cut 3 pieces of cooking twine about a foot long each.  I secured my roll by tightly tying the string such that the roll was approximately divided in quarters by the string.

Bows are not required.
I then sprinkled it with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  Here is where using your butcher paper or a piece of freezer paper (or wax paper for that matter), will come in handy.  It allows you to roll the roll around to coat it in the oil and seasoning with out making a huge mess.

I prepared my herb bed in my casserole dish.  I again used the video as a guide for amounts.

I placed my pork lion on top of the herbs, added my white wine and water to the dish, and put it in the preheated oven.  

After 20 minutes, this is what I had.  I thought it needed to be a little browner, so I set the timer for 5 minutes more.  When the buzzer went off, it still needed a little more color, so I set the timer for another 5 minutes.

Roast after 20 minutes at 425
Roast after 30 minutes.  Ready for a lower temp.

At the 30 minute mark, it had a nice brown crust.  As directed I added a little more wine and water to the dish. and lowered the oven temperature to 375 F.  The recipe says to then cook it until the internal temperature is 145 F.  Thankfully, as I had watched the video, he gives a time guideline of 15-20 minutes.  I set the timer for 15 minutes.  

After 15 minutes, it was at 140 F.  I set the timer for another 5 minutes, and it had only risen to 142.2, so again, another 5 minutes.   

And finally it was done!  I was so excited I forgot to write down the final temperature, but it was a little over 145.  Here are a few glamour shots of the finished pork loin.  Super pretty.

Make sure to remove the string!

It slices easy.  

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients: You will be able to find all of these ingredients at your "big box" grocery store.  Mine has fresh herbs and hopefully yours does too.  For the pork loin, if you aren't comfortable butterflying it yourself, you'll need to go to a butcher or a grocery store with a competent full service meat counter.  I got my 2 pound pork loin butterflied at Central Market.  Maybe next time I'll try butterflying the roast myself.  Wow, the roast in those pictures looks tasty too.  I'm going to have to investigate that recipe.  

Preparation/Cooking Time:  It took me 20 minutes to prepare this dish to go into the oven.  I subtracted time for having to go get the computer to review the demonstration video for the herb approximations.  I recommend you watch the video as well as how much you use will depend on what your herbs look like.  

I'm just going to put it out there that I really dislike recipes that are written by cooking temperature rather than time.  I can certainly appreciate that cooking by temperature can offer more precision with respect to doneness, but for a home cook, at least for the first time you cook a recipe, I find it frustrating.  I like being able to know when dinner will be done so I can plan.  Rant complete.  Luckily, you all now have the benefit of my experience to better gauge time.  

So the total cooking time for this recipe was:  30 minutes at 425 F and 25 minutes at 375.  Its not a terribly long cook time, but for me, at least this first time, it took more pot minding than I like.  

Clean up:  Clean up for this dish was pretty minimal.  Everything,  except my knife, went into the dishwasher.  Win!

The Paleo Review:  Probationary Thumbs Up.  I liked that it did not take much time to prepare the pork loin for cooking.  I also like how pretty it looked on my plate.  The pork was tender and juicy.  My dinner guest thought it was really tasty.  But the rosemary was off putting to me.  

Because the meat actually turned out very well and its visually pleasing, I'm going to give this a probationary thumbs up pending a second try.  In the video, he says you can use whatever herbs you'd like.  The next time I try this rosemary is out and basil will be in or whatever I'm feeling at that moment.  I'll update the post once I've cooked this again.