Friday, January 21, 2011

Budget Cuts: Fit to Be Tied

There's something about seeing a large hunk of pork in a meat case for $3.99 a pound that calls to me, especially when it's a sustainably and humanely raised pork leg roast. While lots of folks love the loin, that cut tends to be very lean, lacking the fat that makes the roast moist and juicy. I also happen to think the leg has a lot more flavor, kind of like the difference between chicken breast and thigh meat.

In this roast, the removal of the leg bone leaves a nice slash through the leg that's perfect for filling with whatever stuffing ingredients you happen to have on hand. A stroll through Epicurious gave me the inspiration I needed to use some leftover prosciutto, a lemon, some breadcrumbs and garlic for a different twist on a more traditional stuffing.

Even better, in the process of rummaging through the vegetable bin I pulled out a couple of yams, a turnip and some kale from the farmers' market. Then it occurred to me that the yams and turnip would be perfect roasted with the pork, and the kale would make a hearty salad alongside.

A little over an hour or so later we were sitting down to what I have to say was a winner of a dinner on the cheap, one that I'd be proud to serve next time guests come over. Just promise that you won't tell anyone how cheap and easy it is, OK? It can be our little secret…

Pork Leg Roast with Lemon and Prosciutto Stuffing and Roasted Vegetables

For the pork leg:
1 4-lb. pork leg roast
4 slices prosciutto
1-2 lemons, sliced crosswise as thinly as possible
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt and a few grindings of pepper, plus more for roasting
1 tsp. Spanish smoked pimenton (optional)

For the vegetables:
2 yams
1 large turnip
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove any twine or wrapping from the leg roast. Unroll on a cutting board with the fattier exterior on the bottom and the inside (where the bone used to be) facing up. If it's not quite flat, slice into the thicker parts so they open up like a book. (It's not important for it to be perfectly even or totally flat.) Lay the slices of prosciutto on top so they cover the surface, then lay the lemon slices in a single layer on top of that. Scatter the garlic slices over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Starting at one end, roll tightly and tie with kitchen twine to secure (see photo, above). In my case, this usually requires Dave's help, since holding the roast and tying tend to be more than I can do without ending up with stuffing flying all over the kitchen. Your experience may vary. Sprinkle the roast with the pimenton, rubbing it into the outside and salt and pepper generously.

Peel yams and turnip and cut into 1/2" or so dice. Place in mixing bowl, add thyme, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat thoroughly.

Place tied roast in a large roasting pan and surround it with the roasted vegetables. Place roasting pan in center of oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 125-130° (approx. 45 min.-1 hour), then remove to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. (Other recipes call for an internal temperature of 155°, but we find that the meat tends to be overcooked and dry at that temperature.)

Look for other recipes in the Budget Cuts series: Stuffed Pork Leg Roast with Kale and Pine Nuts;  Chile-Marinated Pork Shoulder; Grilled London Broil; Pork Tagine with Pistachios, Almonds, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins.

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