Once again I found myself cooking a completely inappropriate meal for a Monday evening. This time I decided I wanted to roast a pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta with a mushroom and herb stuffing. To go with this I went for a favourite of mine, pommes dauphinoise. I then made a salsa with swiss chard to cut through the cream and butter of the potatoes. Quite a lot of work went into each of the elements of this dish, which is exactly why it was a poor choice for a Monday evening when time is tight. I intended to make a cider gravy as well but after two hours of cooking I was hungry and just didn’t have the time or inclination to make this. Had I made this as a Sunday dinner then I definitely would have made the gravy as that would have been the real icing on the cake, well sauce on the meat anyway.
Preparing the pork
I like pork tenderloin as a cut of meat. It is very lean, cooks quickly and you can do interesting things with it. To prepare the meat I trimmed off any excess fat, you do not have to go mad as it is already pretty lean as I mentioned, and seasoned. For now that is all that is needed. For the stuffing finely chop a few banana shallots, chestnut mushrooms, rosemary, sage and garlic. I fried these in butter and oil with a dash of Marsala and once cooked placed in a bowl to cool. Once cooled lay out the pancetta on a chopping board, you could also do this on some cling film. I’ve used pancetta here but parma ham would also work well or even streaky bacon although that may be a little too fatty. Once laid out spread over the stuffing mixture and place the pork on top, bear in mind that the bottom of the pork at this stage will actually be the top when cooking. Fold over the ends of the pancetta so that they overlap and then place onto a baking tray with the overlapping end underneath the pork. Pre-heat the oven to 180C but do not place the meat in there yet.
I absolutely love pommes dauphinoise, how can anybody not with that much cream, butter and garlic. It is a bit of a pain to prepare but is definitely worth the effort. Peel and thinly slice your potatoes, I have used Maris Piper here. I sliced mine by hand but you can use a mandolin if you have one, I have also used a grater in the past. Once sliced place in a bowl and add sliced cloves of garlic (a lot of), chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. For something a little different I also added some thinly sliced fennel to this. Spread an ovenproof dish with a good layer of butter and then add your sliced potatoes in fairly orderly layers adding more seasoning if desired. Finish the potatoes off by pouring over enough double cream so that it reaches the top layer of potatoes. Place in the oven for about 45mins to an hour. The pork can go in about 20mins before the potatoes are due to end.
I really like a nice salty, herby salsa to go with roasted meats. It adds a different dimension to a meal that can be quite heavy or fatty and brings a freshness which is great, especially this time of year. This is a fairly basic recipe and you could easily experiment with it. To start with place the swiss chard into some salted boiling water for a few minutes and then plunge into a bowl of iced water so that it stops cooking and retains its colour. In the meantime chop some capers, anchovies, parsley and garlic and combine in a bowl with a good amount of oil. Remove the chard from the water and squeeze out as much moisture as you can before chopping and adding to the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice adding more oil if necessary. This should be both salty and tart with a really lovely savoury herby freshness to it with a little heat from the raw garlic.
The final plate
To plate up cut off a few slices of the pork which should not be too dry, you can even serve this a little pink. Add to the plate with a nice slab of the potatoes, and a generous helping of the salsa. To be perfectly honest I did not execute this as well as I could as the potatoes and meat were probably in the oven for slightly too long. That being said the combination of the pork with its herb stuffing and the crispy pancetta was delicious. The potatoes were soft and creamy and the salsa lifted the other elements on the plate. I ate this for the next few days and the potatoes and meat reheated surprisingly well in a pyrex bowl with a lid. I think the intended cider and sage gravy would have been an excellent addition; but these things happen when time is an issue.
I hope that you have enjoyed this recipe and hope you give it a go.