"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mortadella-Stuffed Pork Loin with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

One of the things I like about the family visiting at work is that I get to explore the "big" recipes in the book--the ones that serve 8 or more. And when K. and L.'s side of the family comes, I especially enjoy looking for recipes that are a little more unusual or extravagant--grandson J. is a trained chef himself, owns a wine storage business and does some part-time catering.

And so I settled on Mortadella-Stuffed Pork Loin with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes for one of their dinners.

This recipe employs a few techniques and ingredients new to me. For technique, I've never butterflied a center-cut pork loin, and it's a method called a "spiral cut". Imagine your pork loin is actually a rolled-up rug, and your knife is helping it lie flat. That's what you do, working carefully to get an even thickness.

I've also never stuffed a pork loin before, though once you get it flat the concept is easy enough to grasp.

For ingredients--black truffle butter and mortadella were the exotics. I knew I'd be able to find both at the Fruitful Basket, since they've recently added meats to their excellent cheese case.

So imagine my dismay when I made my last shopping stop there and found the truffle butter...but no mortadella!

This is where I got my mortadella education. It went something like this:

You have no mortadella???????

(deeply apologetic) No, we just don't carry it.
Is there any substitute? What is it anyway? Would salami...
It's essentially ground-up ham. Like bologna.
(I make a face) It tastes like bologna???
No, like ham. With cubes of fat in it.
(I make another face)
It looks artisan. Sometimes it has pistachios.
(I look dubious) So what would be a good substitute?
What else is going in it?
Black truffle butter.
I would say ham would be ok.

(the cashier, mother-in-law of owner) I ADORE mortadella. Thank god we don't carry it, I'd eat all of it.
You like mortadella?
It's so bad for you. But you HAVE to get imported. Domestic mortadella tastes like bologna.
(I make a face. Can you tell I hate bologna?)

Here's a picture of mortadella:

I'm still not convinced.

But convincing will have to wait for another day because with ham and black truffle butter in hand, I went onward to make my stuffed pork loin.

Another new technique for me (kind of): grinding whole peppercorns + salt then garlic with a mortar and pestle. This was the rub that was to go on the outside of the rolled up roast. But first, the layering...

This was easy--just spreading out some deli meat and spreading butter on top. Then more meat, then more butter.

Then I rolled it up, and rubbed the pepper/salt/garlic paste all over the outside. By the way, I had two of these, for feeding 9 adults and 2 kids.

Into the oven it went until the internal temp reached 150 degrees, then out it came to rest while I made the pan sauce. Oh yeah, the potatoes. They're standard roasted potatoes--you roll them around in the fat from the meat (after previously tossing them with olive oil and rosemary) and roast the bejeezus out of them until they're nice and soft.

The pan sauce surprised me with how metallic it tasted, but I've always felt that way about lean pork--that it has kind of a metallic taste. So I wasn't in love with the pan sauce, but that was just my own taste buds.

Here it is, sliced and plattered:

Pretty nice looking, eh? If I do say so myself.

So here's my two cents about this dish. The black truffles pretty nearly get overwhelmed by the pepper/garlic rub on the outside of this roast. Pepper is the dominant flavor by far, and I personally don't think the expense of imported mortadella (or even imported ham) and black truffle butter is justified. (How expensive, you ask? Four ounces of truffle butter = $7.95) So if you REALLY want to go for the expensive stuffing, I'd ease way back on the rub. Or, if you love pepper and garlic, then pick a less expensive stuffing--bread crumbs, bacon and cheese of some kind would be pretty luscious and half the price.

Wine drinkers--Pinot Noir is my choice for this dish.

By the way, I felt bad about not somehow incorporating pistachios in the pork roast so I served a grapefruit/pistachio salad with the roast. Big hit.

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