Many years ago during a trip to Italy, I remember stopping at a roadside stand somewhere near Florence to buy “porchetta.” From my first bite of this intensely flavored grilled pork, I was smitten. The porchetta (pronounced por-ket-ah) was prepared with a whole boned pig that was stuffed with garlic and herbs, then rolled, and cooked slowly on a spit. Vendors served the fork-tender pork as an exquisite sandwich layered between bread slices.
Over time, I discovered many recipes for porchetta, but all required long, slow grilling, and I never seemed to have enough free time to try them. Then, this summer I had a eureka moment! Why not use the traditional seasonings of fennel seeds, rosemary, sage, and garlic as a rub for pork tenderloins. For my adaptation I slathered the tenderloins with an herb and garlic olive oil mixture, before marinating them for several hours. Then I browned and roasted the meat all in about 30 minutes.
The cooked pork, tender and moist, was redolent of that long ago Italian specialty I sampled on the outskirts of Florence. Serve it open-faced atop grilled ciabatta or baguette slices, with a garnish of purchased mayonnaise mixed with diced cornichons. This pork is good both slightly warm or served at room temperature, making it a flexible as well as delicious entree for this long holiday weekend!Print This Recipe
Porchetta-Style Pork Tenderloins with Cornichon Mayo
2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1 1/2 tsp dried sage leaves
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 medium garlic cloves minced
6 tbsp olive oil
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each, trimmed of excess fat
Fresh rosemary for garnish
Fresh sage for garnish
1 navel orange cut into 8 wedges for garnish, optional
Cornichon Mayo (Recipe follows.)
Sliced ciabatta or baguette, cut into 3/8 inch thick slices and lightly toasted or grilled
1. Combine fennel seeds, crushed rosemary, sage, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse several times until all ingredients are well blended. Mixture will be thick.
2. Arrange the pork tenderloins in a shallow nonreactive pan (pyrex works well) and brush them on all sides with the herb mixtures. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or even better overnight.
3. To roast, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Set a large flameproof roasting pan over medium high heat (you may want to use two burners for this) and when quite hot, add the tenderloins and brown well on all sides, about 5 minutes.
5. Transfer pan to the oven and roast until a thermometer registers 145 degrees, about 15 minutes. Do not overrook; pork should be a light rosy hue when done. Remove pork roasts to racks to cool 15 minutes.
6. Slice the tenderloins on the diagonal into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange overlapping slices on a platter. Add rosemary and sage sprigs as a garnish, and, if you like, a few orange segments. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a bowl of Cornichon Mayo and a basket of toasted, sliced ciabatta or baguette. Serves 6 to 8
3/4 cup purchased mayo such as Hellman’s
1/3 cup (6 to 9) cornichons, chopped plus 1 1/2 tsp brine from the pickle jar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Generous 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard with grains
1 tbsp chopped chives plus 1 tsp chopped chives for the garnish
1. Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Taste and add more lemon juice or mustard if needed. (Mayo can be prepared 4 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.) Transfer mayo to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of chives Makes about 1 cup
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2017