Arrosto di Maiale con Mortadella (Stuffed Roast Pork with Mortadella)
Some sort of roast is always the centerpiece of a Sunday family meal in almost all regions of Italy. Traditionally, because meat was such a precious ingredient, especially in the poorer southern regions, you’ll often see that the meat used to flavor the pasta sauce for the primo turns up again as the main course. And any leftovers are used the next day in inventive and parsimonious recipes. Even though things have changed, these traditions persist.
Further north, in this part of the world, where a richer way of eating reflects both a higher income as well as more plentiful amounts of meat, the main dish often highlights meat in a completely extravagant way. The day I lunched at Rina’s house, she didn’t simply make a pork roast, but prepared an intricately assembled pork roast that was stuffed not only with more meat, but with eggs and cheese as well.
In a feat of bravura cookery Rina used a slurry of eggs and cheese to stuff the tenderloin, somehow managing not to let any of the runny filling slip out the ends. But I choose the coward’s way (which, frankly, is just as delicious) by making a frittata first to assure none of the precious stuffing escapes. SERVES 8
- Two 11/2-pound pork tenderloins, butterflied (see Note)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 thin slices of mortadella
- 4 ounces of fine, dried breadcrumbs (about 1⁄3 cup)
- 1 medium bell pepper, any color
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 medium white onions
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 medium zucchini
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter
Take the tenderloins out of the refrigerator about an hour before you are going to prepare them.
Cover the top of the meat with plastic wrap and, using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound
the piece of meat to even it out. It should be about 1/2 inch thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper and let sit for 45 minutes.
To make the frittatas: Break 1 egg into a small bowl and mix with 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano. Heat a small nonstick frying pan (about 8 inches in diameter) with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the egg mixture, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Let cook until set, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the frittata from the pan and let cool. Repeat with the other egg and another 1/4 cup Parmigiano to make a second frittata.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano over the open pork fillets. Layer half of the mortadella and then one frittata on top of each. Sprinkle each with half of the breadcrumbs.
Carefully roll up one of the tenderloins, starting at the long ends, making sure that none of stuffing comes out of either end. Using kitchen twine, securely tie up the stuffed roast. If you have a cook’s needle you can use this to make sure the roast is tightly bound. Repeat for the other tenderloin. If preparing the day before, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge.
Cut the bell pepper, eggplant, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and zucchini into 1-inch pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the tablespoon of olive oil into an ovenproof casserole, add the butter, and place over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins, along with 2 of the garlic cloves. Brown the meat well on all sides. Once the meat is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes, remove the garlic clove, and add the vegetables to the pan along with the remaining 2 garlic cloves. Stir the vegetables around the meat with a wooden spoon, deglazing the pan. Add a bit of water if necessary and the pan seems dry.
Season the vegetables with salt, stir, and then transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Cut off the twine and carefully slice the roast into 1/2-inch slices. Place on a serving platter, surrounded by the vegetables.
NOTE To butterfly the pork, lay each tenderloin on a flat surface. Make a 1-inch-deep cut down the center, being careful not to cut all the way through. Open up the meat, spreading both parts to the side, like a book.
If you have non-pork eaters in your family, you can substitute a skinless, boneless butterflied turkey breast or leg for the tenderloin, and eliminate the mortadella. If using turkey breast, reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes, or else it will dry out. If using the leg then the timing remains unchanged.