Potlucks are our “new” thing. I know that you probably already understand that they’re fantastic, so forgive me for making old news new again. It took me a very long time to throw a potluck dinner. Somehow, I find it difficult to cede most of the control over the meal to others when it happens in my own home. This is bizarre. I know. Now that we’ve crossed over to the potluck side of things, though, I’m pretty sure these suppers will be a mainstay. We have a good record going.There’s a little Bon Appétit essay by the Canal House ladies, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, from last fall. A friend asks them how they accomplish effortless entertaining, and the answer, they reply, is “simple: we go for the grand gesture.” One dish that doesn’t take too much attention while it’s cooking and serves many. It struck me that the grand gesture can be my answer to a potluck: serve a big main dish, and then rely on others for sides and salads. They might not be well-matched, exactly, but at least there’s an anchor point.Missing from my culinary experience is a depth of knowledge of cooking large cuts of meat. So when we decided to celebrate the solstice on Saturday evening, I decided that the grand gesture for this potluck would be a stuffed pork loin roast. This is exciting for a lot of reasons, notably because there’s an absence of flesh-recipes on this site thus far—up there is the debut of a photo of raw meat—but also because I had to learn all kinds of new things, like butterflying and stuffing and rolling up a five-pound pork loin. It felt like a grand gesture, indeed, but was virtually effortless in that I prepared in that morning, put it in the fridge, and started roasting it before anyone arrived. Somewhere along the line, the party became Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed, and the slow-roasting pork loin gave us time to deck out the dining room in greenery. It was a late night, with a bonfire to cap it all off. I left the following morning to run errands, stepping over sleeping bodies of folks with whom I’m comfortable enough to leave to fend for themselves, kitchen floor strewn with now-wilting leaves, mud tramped in from the night before, a collection of waiting-to-be-recycled empties on the kitchen counter. I returned home and found them on the porch, eating leftover cherry tomatoes and bread from the night before. It was a quiet, mildly hungover afternoon. They watched 40-Year-Old Virgin.
We puttered around, cleaning up, making zucchini bread, and I would gaze around every once in awhile at these people. They listen attentively to a candlelit performance of Puck’s closing monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and don wreaths on their heads all night—-and then feel content sprawled on the couch watching Steve Carrell get his chest waxed. These are the people I love, the people who are not too much one thing but are lots of bits of everything. They, of all, deserve those grand gestures.
Pork loin roast stuffed with mustard greens, red onions, & preserved lemons
The butterflying, stuffing, and roasting instructions were cobbled together from several stuffed pork loin recipes. The stuffing was necessitated by some giant mustard greens in the garden and a red onion kicking around in the pantry—the flavors here are really nice.
You will need
1 boneless pork loin roast, 3-5 pounds (this cut is relatively inexpensive even when nicely sourced, so do your best to find happy pigs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 pound mustard greens, stiff ribs and stems removed and leaves roughly torn into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup preserved lemon, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
- In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or so. Add the mustard greens—in batches if they all don’t fit at once—and toss them into the oil, onion, and garlic. Once all the mustards are added, cook them down until they are wilted to about a quarter of their original size, but still bright green. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the preserved lemons.
Rinse the pork roast and pat very dry. To butterfly the roast, hold it very firmly with one hand on the top wile slicing, inch by inch, through the middle of the roast lengthwise with a sharp chef’s knife. Don’t try to cut too much at once into the pork, or it will be uneven when you open it up. When you are about an inch from the other side of the pork roast, stop cutting. The meat should open up, lengthwise, like a book, and lay flat.
Liberally rub the inside of the butterflied roast with kosher salt. When the mustard green mixture is no longer hot, spread it evenly on the roast, leaving a free inch or so on the outside edge. Starting on one edge, carefully and tightly roll the roast up, pushing filling back in as necessary, until the roast is completely rolled up, pinwheel style, with the stuffing inside. Leaving the seam down on a cutting board or platter, use butcher twine to tie the stuffed roast together, as in the first photo. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a heavy bottomed, ovenproof casserole or roasting pan over medium heat. Brown the roast, carefully, on all sides, until some of the fat is rendered, about 4-5 minutes a side.
Transfer the roast to the pre-heated oven. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1-2 hours, depending on the size of your roast. Start taking its temperature at 40 minutes to get an idea of how fast it’s going.
After it reaches 145 degrees, remove the roast from the oven, tent it with foil and set it aside to rest, anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. It will stay hot.
Slice the pork roast into 1/2 to 1-inch slices and serve.