To this day, when I go to the Amish butchers back in Delaware, I am strangely attracted to the gigantic stuffed pork chops in the case. This dates back to when I was a kid—in my family we always made stuffing on the side—it never went into the chicken, turkey, or pork. I would sit in the kitchen and read cookbooks with dozens of recipes for stuffed meat dishes, evocative of Donna Reed or June Cleaver. We never made them; perhaps the trace amount of German (“Pennsylvania dutch”) blood I inherited from my mom’s dad’s dad’s mom was not sufficient to carry the day for stuffing pork.
A few years ago,
plagued blessed with the bushels of greens produced by the cooler spring and early summer here in Connecticut, I had to find new ways of using the greens I cut from bunches of beets and turnips—I just could not throw them away. That is when, realizing that hearty greens are a natural companion for pork, I began making this stuffing. When you have a ton of greens in the kitchen and some stale bread, you can mix this up in the food processor and freeze it in 2-cup quantities for stuffing pork roasts later. It holds up great in the freezer and dresses up an ordinary roast with little trouble.
I imagine if you have kids, this would be a great way to sneak more vegetables into their supper. The recipe actually has quite a quantity of greens. You could easily buy large pork chops here and use the same stuffing and baking methodology; my guess you could bake for a shorter period of time. But I find that the meat dries out without substantial brining. Whenever you cook meats, and especially those that have been stuffed, you need to use a reliable meat thermometer. It’s hard to tell when those center bits are really done without one.
If you are not spatially oriented—I am totally challenged in this area—it may be hard for you to visualize how to get the pork roast into one big, flat rectangle, ready for stuffing and rolling. Even though pictures of raw meat are extremely unattractive, I have included photographs here to help you visualize it. All I can tell you is that if you look at the short end of your roast, and imagine cutting a 1/2-inch or so spiral that is going to create an overall 1/2-inch thick rectangle, you’re most of the way there. Good luck! I promise it’s worth the trauma.
Pork roast with hearty greens stuffing
- 3 – 4 lb pork loin roast (the full loin, not a tenderloin)
- 8 ounces (2 large bunches) hearty greens such as turnip, beet, kale, chard or spinach, stems removed, thoroughly washed, torn into smallish pieces
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper
- depending on your supplies, herbs to taste: sage, oregano, cilantro, parsley are all great
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pork loin on a baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. Look at the short end of it. You want to use a sharp butcher knife to make it into a 1/2-inch thick, flat rectangle, which means cutting 1/2 inch from the bottom of the roast to within 1/2 inch of the side of it, turning the knife and cutting 1/2 inch from the top and unfolding the entire roast into a rectangle. (See pictures.) This basically means cutting in a spiral pattern, which you will replicate when you stuff the roast and re-fold it into nearly its original shape. Depending on the size of your roast, you may get a 3 or 4 layer spiral. This is the most difficult step in this recipe.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, place the greens. Pulse until the greens are finely chopped. Add bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, as well as any herbs you might be using. Pulse again until all ingredients are combined and nearly like a paste, but not quite.
3. Spread the green stuffing mixture onto the rectangular, flat pork, which is still on the baking sheet. Re-roll the roast into a tight spiral and use butcher’s twine or skewers to hold it tightly in place.
4. Roast in pre-heated oven until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145-150 F. Remove to cutting board and let the roast rest for 10 minutes. Slice servings from the short end, so each person gets a spiral of roast.