Before my current job at a museum, I worked at a non-profit art gallery in Boston. What I have come to find about the people that work in the arts – not so much the artists themselves but the ‘gallerinas’, the fundraising folks, the museum educators – is that they really like to eat and cook. At the gallery, my colleagues and I would compare gourmet leftovers and fancy composed salads on our lunch break. To celebrate a big sale or a successful opening, we would treat ourselves to fancy cheese, oysters and pate at the french restaurant across the street or even go out to the newest “it” restaurant in the South End. I wonder if an appreciation for culinary arts is a natural extension of a love of the visual arts. It is said that we eat with our eyes first…
In any case, one recipe shared over that convivial lunch table surrounded by paintings is the one that follows. My dear friend Caroline, who generally is not fond of pork, shared this super simple preparation with me. An easy-to-make compound butter really ramps up the flavor and presentation of the relatively inexpensive pork roast. Perfect for the holidays and as an addition to my running list of don’t-break-the-bank-but-impress-your-guests-anyway recipes. I have, on other occasions, mixed in a heavy tablespoon of roquefort cheese with the butter for a bit of a twist, but this is Caroline’s original recipe and it is fabulous. It went so fast at my mom’s dinner party that by the time I’d grabbed my camera for the final shot, all that was left is what you see above!
Roast Pork with Prosciutto-Sage Butter
1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma
2 Tbs. minced shallots
6-12 leaves fresh sage, chopped (choose number of leaves depending on size of the leaves and your taste for sage)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
salt and pepper to taste
monstrous boneless pork loin (it doesn’t matter the size – if you have butter left over after coating it, just freeze it and use it later)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the prosciutto, shallots, chopped sage and softened butter. Salt and pepper to taste, adjusting amount of salt if you are using salted butter. If you have any fancy flavored salts, this is a good time to use them as well – I have a “Sel de Merlot” from France which is delicious in this recipe. Set butter aside.
Place pork on a cutting board, fatty side up. Trim off as much fat as you can without completely (re)butchering the loin and wasting perfectly good meat [see photo :)]. The idea is to replace most of the pork fat with the flavored butter fat.
If you think you made more butter than your pork loin will require, scoop butter out of the small bowl with a spoon in smaller batches so that you don’t contaminate the unused butter. In my case, having such a monstrous loin, I just slathered the whole stick on there with my hands. Definitely make sure you spread the butter out evenly and that the goodies are distributed across the top of the meat.
Roast the loin in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Then, turn the oven heat down to 325 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes per pound or so. You should take the pork out of the oven when a meat thermometer stuck horizontally into the meat (parallel to the cutting board and in the center of the loin) reads 150 degrees internal temperature – I usually check it after an hour to see where I stand. Do not overcook or the roast will be dry and nowhere near as yummy. Again, feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations in the butter – if Michelangelo, Monet, and Picasso never experimented, the art scene would be pretty bland today!
Nice work K! You’re right; this is always a crowd pleaser. I must take this opportunity to thank my Mom who, after all, gave me this recipe. A great one to pass along!
Thanks, babe! Keep em coming!