The Literate Chef

An Experiment in Stuffing a Roast

In General Articles on September 16, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Pork Tenderloins are a great boon to home chefs. They are pre-packaged, usually as a pair of 1 to 1.5 lb. pieces in the pack, easy to find in supermarkets and ready to cook. Sold either seasoned, with a variety of spices or marinades, or plain, i.e., unseasoned, they are tender, relatively low in fat and high in protein, and with them you can put dinner on the table in less than an hour.

We have roasted them in the oven, cooked them on the grill and cut them into medallions, but until recently, never stuffed them. Stuffing chicken or veal cutlets is pretty simple; stuffing larger pieces of meat, like pork tenderloin is a bit more complex and challenging. You need a sharp knife, a meat mallet, wax paper and butcher’s twine.

With our friends Steve and Barbara coming to dinner last week and with a package of seasoned pork tenderloins sitting in the freezer, we decided to try stuffing and roasting them. The tenderloins were seasoned with black pepper and mushrooms, so we thought that a simple, Italian-based stuffing would work well. Nothing is simpler and more favorable than the tri-colored combination of the flag of Italy, green, white and red; in this case,  fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. And since the tenderloins are low in fat and hence would be dry, a white wine reduction gravy would also work well.

Having identified the ingredients all that was left was devising a plan. After slicing the tenderloins lengthwise, flattening them would be necessary as they would be too thick to stuff. And, because they are so lean, we didn’t think they would properly brown in the oven, even at a high setting of 450 degrees. So searing them in a sauté pan before stuffing seemed to make sense. That would give us the added benefit of providing a base of fond with which to make the gravy.

The process went quite smoothly and was completed, with the exception of the final roasting step, long before our guests arrived. As a result, we were able to enjoy their company with drinks and appetizers and then sit down to a delicious dinner of Roasted Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with a minimum of last minute work in the kitchen.

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