This recipe was inspired by Italy’s popular Porchetta – a savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast originating in central Italy. Unlike the “authentic” Porchetta, the fatty pork roast is replaced by a leaner cut, the tenderloin. While it will not develop the same brown crust of the fatty pork butt traditionally used throughout Italy, the leaner tenderloin is still well-spiced and delicious.
During public displays or holidays, sliced pork is typically served as a panino, (a sandwich made with breads other than sliced bread such as baguette, ciabatta or michette). The bread is sliced horizontally, filled with shredded hunks of the pork roast and topped with baby spinach. It is then warmed using a pressing grill (commonly known as a Panini). In Rome, the pork roast is shredded and used as a filling for pizza. The roast pork is also popular in homes, served with green vegetables and warm Italian rolls, or as a flavorful dish for the picnic basket. With all the herbs and seasonings, the roast takes on an almost “spicy” flavor. When sliced, the roast tends to shred naturally, lending easily to a “pulled” Panini sandwich.
In our house, this flavorful, well seasoned pork roast is a wonderful Sunday supper. The prep time is about 15 minutes, with an hour and a quarter cooking window. This gives the family cook plenty of “down” time to prepare other foods or simply relax with the family. Often we serve this with Buttery Garlic-Herb Broccoli and a simple pasta or rice dish such as long grain and wild rice (a post for another day).
Italian Roast Pork
The Roast –
3 lb Pork Tenderloin roast
5 or 6 basil leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Pork Tenderloin weighing more than about a pound is often two loins packaged together, If that is the case with your loin, that’s okay. Simply open the meat as you would a bread bun, turning the top over and exposing the flat interior. Proceed with the “stuffing” and rubbing steps below.
If the meat is not split, that’s okay too. Lay the pork roast in front of you horizontally. Cut the roast horizontally, starting on a long side, stopping 3/4″ from the other side. Don’t cut all of the way through. Lay meat open on your cutting board.
Spread chopped fresh basil down one side of the tenderloin. Season with salt. Set aside.
The Rub –
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon garlic salt
2 Teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons garlic powder
In a small bowl, place herbs and spices together. Using your fingertips, work the rub into a nice blend.
Sprinkle half of the herb/spice mixture over the basil. Press gently into the meat.
Return meat to its original shape and rub outside of roast with second half of seasoning blend. Using kitchen string, tie roast back together securely every inch or so.
The Roasting Pan –
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
Pour 3/4 cup water and liquid smoke into a rimmed baking pan. Place a V-rack in the middle of the pan, with roast snugly tucked into the rack. Cover everything tightly with foil.
Roast in preheated oven for about an hour and a quarter, or until cooked through. Uncover roast and let brown for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. (If desired during the browning period, drape with a few strips of bacon to lend a more authentic, fatty flavor to the roast).
Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Slice as you would a pork roast. If desired, drizzle sliced roast with pan drippings.