I was supposed to go to a taping for a TV show today for an episode on Christmas noche buena cooking. The way the invitation was worded, I understood that the show follows a discussion format. But after I had said yes I was told that I’d be cooking a noche buena dish and I’d have to bring the ingredients and the cooking utensils as well. Huh? Maybe, I should transport my entire kitchen too? So, I said, “Sorry, can’t.” That’s really much too inconvenient. I’d rather show you a noche buena idea right here.
There are only two good rolled meat recipes that I have posted so far. One is the vegetable stuffed beef rolls and the other is the ‘pork’ morcon that I created as an alternative to the traditional beef morcon which I find too dry. A few days ago, I hit jackpot with this little experiment — rolled porkloin and the stuffing consists of diced belly bacon, chopped onions and dried basil and rosemary.
So simple to make but the flavors are just wonderful. The bonus is that, served sliced, it’s so pretty that it rightly belongs on a dinner table set for a special occasion like noche buena.
- 1 slab pork loin with fat on the surface (not tenderloin, please!) about 500 grams
- 100 grams smoked belly bacon diced
- 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Cut the pork so that you have a large piece that is uniformly about a quarter of an inch thick. You can ask the butcher to do this for you; just tell him you want it prepared as for morcon. Take about two teaspoonfuls of (refined) salt or two tablespoonfuls of rock salt and spread on both sides of the meat, rubbing the salt in. Place in a covered container and let sit in the fridge for about 6 hours.
Take the meat from the fridge and rinse off the salt under the tap. Pat the meat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Lay it flat, fat side down, and spread the bacon over the entire surface. Sprinkle the onion, basil and rosemary evenly over the bacon. Season with lots of freshly ground pepper. Roll up tightly and wrap in aluminum foil, tucking in the edges. No, you don’t need to string the meat.
Bake in a preheated 170oC oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour without removing the wrapping. If you slice the meat while still hot, it will crumble. So, let it cool for a while.
After the meat has cooled, peel off the foil and cut the rolled porkloin into half-inch slices. Since this was a kitchen experiment, I served it without sauce or dressing. Maybe I will next time. Or maybe not. The rolled porkloin was so tender and moist and exploding with flavors and I have half a mind to say that a sauce or a gravy will just ruin it. If you feel that a sauce is essential, I suggest that you keep it light. Mayo with crushed cucumber is an option.