Memories are a wonderful thing, yes, there are good ones and there are bad ones but the ones that I love the most are the ones that connect me to a time and place and people…my daughters’ coming to America, their birthdays, the day I met my wife, and that whole group of memories that connects me to my family that is no longer around. Not in a morbid way but in a very healthy wonderful way foods that my mom, dad, or grandparents made will have them sitting at the table with us. This dish I’m blogging for you is one of those that is a deep deep memory of my Mom’s cooking from when I was a kid. It’s funny, as unique as one may think they are when I posted the pictures of the dinner on Facebook out of the woodwork came so many who basically all said the same thing, “My Mom made that!! I haven’t seen or had that in years”. So here I am now blogging it so that all may enjoy that memory and introduce this to those who have never heard or had it. What is it other than a stuffed roast? Here’s some background on the dish..it comes from Southern Italy and is called PANZETTA. It’s a stuffed breast of veal with a filling very specific to this dish made of eggs, bread, herbs, lots of pecorino, lots of black pepper,onions. That’s the basic more popular version. As with most Italian dishes there are variations from home to home. My Mom’s (and btw, this was her favorite dish of all) was the recipe I just mentioned but many families added sausage, or cured Italian meats like Prosciutto or Pancetta, some added mushrooms, some added spinach and so on. I decided I’d use my mom’s base and add some spinach, pancetta and onions realizing that maybe I’d compromise the taste of Mom’s but I’d take that chance. The other change I made and this is why I cannot call the entire dish PANZETTA is that I used a Bone in Loin of Pork Roast. Ever have breast of veal? It’s unique and not well loved. There’s about a 2 inch piece of meat running through it wiTH a boatload of bone and connective tissue. Place it under the “acquired taste” file. I happen to love it mostly because of it’s sentimental value but for feeding my family and sharing this with all of you, the pork is more universally loved. The stuffing is just too good to be added to a breast of veal so here I present to you, LONZA DI MAIALE RIPIENE NELLO STILE DI PANZETTA… so there’s a mouthful…Bone in Loin of Pork Roasted Stuffed with Panzetta style stuffing. I’ve done my research on this stuffing and I only see it inside of a Panzetta, it’s so unique. Did I say unique already? Sorry I guess I need to explain what I mean by unique. It’s the taste and texture, very fluffy, eggy, cheesy, with the flavor of black pepper shining through. Almost a mousse like rather then a dense stuffing. Intrigued? After you are done cooking it and eating it look across your table and my mother will be smiling at you. We’ve made her very happy!
SERVES: up to 8 TIME: about 2 1/2 hours
5LB BONE IN LOIN OF PORK WITH A NICE “CAP” OF FAT ON TOP, BUTTERFLIED OR OPENED UP SO YOU CAN STUFF THE ROAST, HAVE YOUR MEAT PERSON OR BUTCHER DO THIS FOR YOU.
1/4 CUP WHITE WINE
3 TBS CHOPPED FRESH THYME
1 TSP. CRUMBLED DRIED OREGANO
KOSHER SALT, GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 CLOVES GARLIC
1/8 LB. DICED PANCETTA
1 MEDIUM ONION, DICED
1 TBS. OLIVE OIL
2 1/2 CUPS STALE ITALIAN BREAD, CUBED, SOAKED IN WATER AND GENTLY SQUEEZED DRY
1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO
2 TBS. CHOPPED PARSLEY
1 1/2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED FRESH SPINACH, BABY SPINACH IS BEST, MORE TENDER
3/4 TSP FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
4 CRUSHED FENNEL SEEDS
2 BEATEN EXTRA LARGE EGGS
3 TBS. GROUND ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS (MADE FROM ITALIAN BREAD, NOT THE FINE CANNED ONES)
Make sure your roast is patted dry and ready for stuffing. Season the interior with a little salt and pepper. While it is coming to room temperature, preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a pan, add 1 tbs olive oil, heat, then add the pancetta and let it render and get browned, almost but not quite crisp..takes about 8 minutes. Then add the onion and let this cook gently till the onions are translucent and soft, about another 10 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and the wine. Let this cook until the wine is evaporated. You are now left with lots of flavor. Add the spinach and mix, it will gently wilt. In a bowl beat together the eggs, black pepper and pecorino. Add the soaked cubed bread. Mix. Now add the crumbs mix, gently. Then add the pancetta and onion. Mix till blended, and you are done. Place this up against the bones and on the meat. Easy. don’t panic if some falls out you can press it back into the rolled roast when you are done. Roll this up and tie up the roast, or if you are not as lazy I as tend to be, just roll it and stand it up nicely in an oiled baking pan. I couldn’t find my meat rack so it went right onto the bottom of the pan but a meat rack is better. It’s always better to tie up a roast like this as it helps with more even cooking, but I wasn’t having any of that the other night. Truth be told it’s one of my not so good cooking skills so I avoid it whenever I think I can get away with it. I don’t advise that though. Give the roast a nice salting, black pepper, rub it with a sliced clove of garlic all over, then pour the wine over it..then rub it with some olive oil. Into the over it goes for 1/2 hour at 400 F. Then lower the oven to 375 F and roast for another hour or until a thermometer reads 140 F when placed into the meat. When it’s done big RULE here, LET THE MEAT REST!!! Cover with foil and leave it for at least 15 minutes. Then slice into chop size or just carve the meat from the bone. Your call.
Inside the meat is moist, and the stuffing…well the stuffing…it’s a doorway into a my childhood home. Such a different stuffing that really captures every Italian flavor , it’s a real winner. After you’ve done the first 1/2 hour of roasting, add some cut Yukon Gold tossed with salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion and celery and olive oil in the pan and let them cook for the balance of the roasting time. Just make sure to rotate the pan 1/2 way thru and move the potatoes around for even browning. More deliciousness.
Up in the left corner of this picutre notice the Applesauce. Yes, Applesauce. Pork and Applesauce are a Fall combo and a very American pairing. I made the applesauce with sweet onions (for this savory dish), apples, apple cider, salt, and some brown sugar. It complimented the pork wonderfully. That’s my preference for roast pork over a gravy, again, your choice but with the rich stuffing the sweetness of the apple cuts through and balances the whole dish. Well, that’s enough from me today. Find a pork roast, or a veal one, and make this Panzetta styled stuffing. Make my mom smile!