The stuffed pork loin is easy to cook, and you can choose how to season it according to your menu. Wild fennel flowers are my favorite choice, but rosemary or juniper berries also work well with the other ingredients. You can also prepare it the day before; it is actually better to make in advance, so that you can slice it into thin, neat slices.
Serves 6 to 8
- 3/4 pound fresh Italian sausages
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel flowers (or substitute fennel pollen)
- 2 2/3 pounds pork loin
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine
Start by preparing the filling. Remove the sausages from their casings and place them in a bowl. Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, breadcrumbs, and dried fennel flowers. Mix the ingredients with your hands; if they are too dry, add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Now butterfly the pork loin. Place the loin on a cutting board, or on a sheet of parchment paper, so that the longer sides are on your left and right. Starting from the right side of the loin, make a horizontal cut about a third of the way from the top, stopping about an inch from the left side. Open the top flap to the left, like opening a book. Then continue the cut downward, stopping about a third of the way from the bottom, and make another horizontal cut back to the right side, again stopping about an inch from the end. You should have made a C-shaped incision. Open this flap to the right so that the butterflied pork loin, now three times its original width, lays flat.
Season with salt and pepper. Spread the filling on the butterflied pork loin and press it down well with your hands. You might want to leave an inch-wide border along the short edges of the pork loin without filling, to make it easier to roll up.
Wrap the pork loin on itself, starting from the short side, pressing down firmly as you roll it up, taking care that the filling remains well sealed inside.
Now tie the pork loin with butcher’s twine. Cut many pieces of string, long enough to wrap around the loin, and tie them about 1 inch apart. If you have fennel flowers, tuck a few under the string; they will release their wonderful aroma while cooking. Season the outside of the loin with salt and pepper, rubbing the seasoning into the meat.
Pour extra-virgin olive oil into a Dutch oven, or another pot large enough to hold the pork loin. Be generous with the oil, using enough to cover the bottom of the pot with a thin layer; depending on the size of the pot, you could use several tablespoons. Heat the oil over medium heat.
When the olive oil is hot, place the pork loin into the pan and sear until it becomes golden brown, then use two wooden spoons to turn it, so as to brown it on all four sides. It will take about 10 minutes total.
When the pork loin is golden brown on all sides, pour a cup of white wine over it. Reduce for a few seconds, then immediately cover the pan with a lid. The moisture of the wine will cook the meat.
Reduce the heat to very low, and cook the pork loin for about 30 minutes, checking toward the end to prevent it from drying too much. As long as you have turned the heat to very low, there should be no problems.
After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pork loin rest in the pan for at least an hour. The residual heat of the pan will finish cooking the pork, leaving the meat juicy and tender. Do not skip this part, otherwise the pork will not be cooked properly.
Now you can choose whether to serve the pork loin immediately, or wait until it is completely cold. If you prefer thin and neat slices, stash the pork in the refrigerator and wait until the next day. Once the pork loin is cold, it will be much easier to slice.
To reheat, do not heat the pork itself, which would cause it to become too dry. Instead, heat a serving dish and place the sliced pork loin on top, then heat the cooking sauce in a pan on the stovetop and pour it over the meat. This will be enough to warm it up.
Giulia Scarpaleggia is a Tuscan-born and -bred food writer, food photographer, and author of five cookbooks, including “From the Markets of Tuscany.” Find her online at her blog, JulsKitchen.com