Pancetta Wrapped Pork Loin with Spring Vegetables
It’s been almost 10 months since I’ve been blogging and that’s the longest “journal” I’ve ever kept. I remember back in the day, I would start a new journal every 6 months or so. Sometimes it was because we were on vacation and I wanted to document it. Other times it was some daily musings. But after a few weeks, or more like a few days, I would get lazy and shift attention to something else and forget about it. But this blog has been completely different. I want to write every few days – about what I’m cooking, what events are going on, or what restaurants I’ve been to. I want to talk about where I buy ingredients from. But I think the main reason I really keep going is because of all the awesome people I’ve met along the way. I’ve developed so many new relationships over the past few months that it’s kinda hard to believe that I didn’t know any of them at this time last year. It’s a cool group, where no one really gets tired of talking about food – even after a 4 course meal! You guys keep me going. Thank you.
I always want my food to tell a story. I’ve come to realize that blogging is as much about the writing and photography as it is the actual food. Since you all can’t taste what I’m making (unless you come to supper club!), pictures and words are your way of experiencing Epicurean Adventures. Thus, I am actually making a conscientious effort to really improve the pictures on the blog. I’ve enlisted the help of my sister here and even started using photoshop (which is really complicated…but I’m working through it). Hopefully some better pictures and more of them will help make the blog a more enjoyable read.
This particular dish was one I served at supper club last week. I got the pork loin from my good friends, Weldon and Ariana, at Emerald Glen Farms. They raise pork the way it should be raised – and if you can believe it, they are the 8th generation owners of the farm in Kentucky. They love what they do and are serious about their humane standards – and that’s what makes me one happy customer. I am sure my relationship will grow with them throughout the years and I look forward to it. (I AM on a massive soapbox today – hey, it just happens sometimes!)
Anyway, back to the dish. I figured it would be a great idea to wrap the pork. At first I was thinking some mustard and herbs or perhaps some horseradish and sorghum syrup. But then, I went back to my Charcutepalooza tricks, and decided to wrap the pork in more pork (or pancetta in this case). Genius, I think! Pancetta adds a great contrast of texture to the dish as it crisps up and the rendering of the fat helps keep the pork moist. The vegetables are a celebration of spring! Some amazing morel mushrooms (which are pretty expensive, but worth it), caramelized fennel, fresh fava beans, and asparagus sauteed with butter is just an extraordinary side dish. This is a harmonious dish and if you want something spectacular, make it yourself for dinner!
Pancetta Wrapped Pork Loin with Spring Vegetables (serves 4)
(Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)
1 boneless 3 lb boneless pork loin
1/2 pound pancetta, very thinly sliced
1 lb whole fava beans, shelled and outer casing removed
1 bunch asparagus, sliced on the bias
1/2 lb fresh morel mushrooms (or shitake), big ones cut in half, small ones left whole
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 bunch of chives, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
pea shoots, for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the porkloin in half crosswise. Then cut it in half lengthwise so you have 4 smaller portions. If you wanted to brine the pork loin, which would be an awesome idea, go ahead and do it now. Uncurl the pancetta and wrap it around the pork loin. Season with salt and pepper. Bring a pan with some butter over medium heat and add the pork loin to the pan. Brown the pancetta on all sides until it is crispy, about 8 minutes. Then pop in the oven with a probe thermometer and cook until the thickest part of the pork registers 140 degrees.
Meanwhile, cook your vegetables. First, melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced fennel and season with salt. Let cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the morel mushrooms to the pan and cook until nicely browned (if the mushrooms suck up all the moisture in the pan, add some more butter). Then add the asparagus and fava beans and cook until they are bright green. Season the entire thing with salt and pepper and taste to ensure proper seasoning.
Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. To plate, spoon some of the vegetable mixture on the plate. Slice each piece of pork loin into 4-5 pieces and put over the vegetables. Garnish the plate with pea shoots and a squeeze of lemon juice.