Neither my husband nor I like turkey. I think it was standard protocol, back in the day, that a turkey had to be cooked for hours until it was bone dry. Nearly everyone I know cooked it this way. A couple of decades later, and we now know that turkey doesn’t have to be cooked as long and that brining it ensures an even moister bird. Scarred for life, after countless Thanksgivings as a child eating something akin to dry cork, I can no longer eat it. I know, but it isn’t Thanksgiving without turkey you may say. I beg to differ; Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing, not about the turkey. One thing remains memorable from all those Thanksgiving dinners – the stuffing. Oh, the stuffing! Isn’t it actually the best part of the Thanksgiving meal? Personally, I’d rather see Tom, or whatever his name is, strutting around the White House lawn, decked in a vest and bow tie, officiating the day as mascot.
The traditional stuffing in our Sicilian household was made with rice. Yep, none of that mushy bread stuff. No offense meant, and on occasion I do make bread stuffing, but this stuffing is our family favorite. Pork roast is now my turkey of choice – along with all the trimmings. What makes this stuffing is the fragrant wild and jasmine rice, mushrooms, chestnuts, toasted pine nuts, and currants. Here is the original recipe I posted previously. The addition of wild rice is an added twist, and you can even add in some dried cranberries if you like. I hope it becomes your family favorite as well.
STUFFED PORK LOIN ROAST
(Lombo di Maiale Ripieno)
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
FOR THE PORK BRINE:
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
FOR THE PORK ROAST:
1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin, butterflied
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
FOR THE STUFFING:
1/4 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1 chicken stock or 1 cup water and 1 small chicken-flavor bouillon cube
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 Italian large sausage link, casing removed
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup), diced
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces sliced button or crimini mushrooms (1 1/4 cups), chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/4 cup cooked fresh chestnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons currants, or 3 tablespoons raisins or dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pine-nuts, lightly toasted
salt and black pepper
FOR THE GRAVY (OPTIONAL):
3 cups dry white wine
Special Equipment: Kitchen twine, instant-read thermometer
1. BRINE THE PORK: Place water, salt, and sugar in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan, and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Place the pork roast flat in the bringing solution. Add bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. COOK THE RICES SEPERATELY: Bring 1 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a low boil over medium heat in a small saucepan with lid. Reduce heat to low, add rice, cover with lid, and steam for 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well
While wild rice is cooking, place chicken stock or water and bouillon cube in a small saucepan with lid, bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, add jasmine rice, cover with lid, and steam for 12 minutes, until just tender. Be careful not to overcook. Remove pan from heat and let rice sit covered for 10 minutes to absorb any liquid.
Place the rices in a medium bowl and allow to cool.
3. MAKE THE STUFFING: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet, over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add to rice mixture.
Using the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter, over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add to rice mixture.
Using the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown about 8 minutes, crumbling with a fork while cooking. Drain off any juices and place in bowl with rice. Stir in remaining 5 ingredients and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. ASSEMBLE THE PORK LOIN: Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Remove pork from brine, lay flat on a board or flat surface and pat dry with paper towels.
Spoon filling evenly, within 1-inch of the edges.
Starting with the long side in front of you, roll pork away from you jelly-roll style.
Tie the roast at 1 to 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Additionally, you can secure the bottom seam-end closed with wooden toothpicks. Rub the roast with remaining olive oil, chopped sage, and rosemary. Do not season with additional salt. Season with pepper.
5. BAKE THE PORK LOIN: Place fennel, onion, celery, carrots, and sage leaves in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil. Place in oven and cook for 25 minutes to brown. Browning the vegetables gives added flavor to the pan juices. Place a rack on top of the rim of the baking pan. Center pork roast, fat side up on top of the rack and cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees F and continue cooking until internal temperature of pork registers 145 degrees F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the shape and size of the roast. Remove roast from oven and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.
6. MAKE THE GRAVY (OPTIONAL): Pour wine into the bottom of baking pan during the last 30 minutes of cooking. After removing from oven, stir and scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pan, strain and serve with roast.