Chef Dez knows the way to Santa's heart is through his big stomach

Love: Worth pondering a substitute for turkey, ham

Love: Start your own family traditions - a special series of recipes have been running in the Langley Advance since Dec. 8, here's another.

Being that I completely indulge myself in many aspects of the culinary world, I am obviously asked many questions about food and food preparation.

One of the more frequent inquisitions I receive is in regards to what my favourite thing is to eat.

This may initially seem like a very simple question to answer.

One is led to believe that since I am rehearsed in food flavourings that I must have a dish that I cherish more than others, with a revolutionary combination of tastes that I cannot live without.

On the other hand, this is like asking a driving enthusiast to choose one automobile, a travel buff to pick the best vacation spot, or a musician to select one song to be adored more than others.

It is literally impossible.

Someone who is completely passionate in a certain aspect of life embraces it as a whole, and struggles with the contemplation of a solitary choice. Although collections of favourites come to mind, never can it be narrowed to the taste of a single dish… but this one comes close.

Those who know me have witnessed (and tasted the results of) my passion for garlic and Mediterranean cuisine.

One of many main courses that I hold dear to my heart and taste buds is this recipe for Mediterranean Stuffed Pork Loin.

The flavour combinations of Italian sausage, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fennel seed, and cheeses make this a deliciously engaging attraction at the dinner table.

Another common question I get, in regards to main courses, is “what should I serve with it?”

My answer does not vary much. This is the type of feature menu item that needs no extreme supporting side dishes to pick up slack.

When a main course of this magnitude of flavour is being served, let it be the main event on the plate and balance it with some lightly dressed greens or a simple steamed, buttered vegetable.

If one has an incredible pasta or other side dish that they anxiously want to serve, it is better off served individually or as a separate course altogether.

The step of searing the stuffed pork completely before roasting is very important for presentation as well as creating a mouth-watering crust. This intense direct heat will create caramelization to a degree that would never occur from simply oven roasting. This is why I have chosen vegetable oil for the searing process rather than olive oil. Vegetable oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil, and can withstand this process without setting off the fire alarms. To help ease the preparation of assembling this roast, I have provided you with step-by-step photos of the different stages.

So this holiday season, consider replacing the traditional turkey or ham with this incredible recipe.

It will surely make an impression on your table and on your guests.

from Langley Advance columnist, author,and culinary instructor Chef Dez

RECIPE BELOW

Mediterranean Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

Ingredients:

• 400g Italian sausage

• 1/2 cup chopped & drained sundried tomatoes (the ones packed in oil)

• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 6 garlic cloves, crushed

• 1 egg

• 2 tsp fennel seeds

• 1 tsp dried oregano

• 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 tsp dried basil

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 1 kg boneless pork loin roast

• 1/3 cup finely crumbled feta cheese

• fresh spinach leaves

• cotton butcher’s twine

• salt & pepper

• 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Squeeze sausage from casings into a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. Add the tomatoes, Parmesan, garlic, egg, fennel, oregano, pepper, basil, and salt to the sausage, and mix together.

4. To flatten the roast for stuffing: With a large knife, cut the bottom 1/3 (one third) of the roast lengthwise without cutting through the opposite side. Continue to cut the remaining 2/3 (two thirds) of the roast in half lengthwise. The result should be one long, thin rectangle of pork.

5. Spread the sausage mixture evenly across the pork, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.

6. Press the crumbled feta cheese evenly into the sausage mixture.

7. Lay a single layer of spinach leaves over the entire surface of the sausage and cheese.

8. Gently roll up the roast; back in the same direction that it was cut to its original shape, making sure that it is not too tight. Tie the roast firmly with loops of the butcher’s twine every 1/2 to 1 inch all the way across the roast. Finish tying with one more loop lengthwise to fully secure the roast/stuffing. If some of the stuffing squeezes out, simply push it back in.

9. Season the outside of the roast liberally with salt and pepper.

10. Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sear the roast on all sides until completely browned (make sure your overhead fan is on!).

11. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow baking pan, insert a meat thermometer, and bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 2 hours.

12. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

 

 

 

 

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