I feel kinda cheesy. I admit it, I feel cool about using a butcher. I understand this is lame and that butchers have been around for ages, but, truthfully, in the recent year, we’ve really gotten to know our neighborhood butchers. Growing up in the ‘burbs, meat was only bought pre-cut and pre-packaged. Yes, every once in awhile you’d see the grocery store’s butcher come out from behind those weird black, plastic doors with the small square window. You’d wonder what rock he/she crawled out from because, more often than not (now I mean NO disrespect) those grocery store workers who came out from the back had a few less teeth than me and looked as though “meth” could’ve been their middle name.
After our first attempt at making homemade sausage, I realized how invaluable a butcher is. We live in a country where many people don’t know what kind of animal their meat comes from. Hold up an eggplant to a 10-year old and good chance they may not even know what the hell it is. It’s sad that the neighborhood butcher is starting to become a thing of the past. Hell, I live in Brooklyn, NY, one of the most multicultural places on earth and, in my hood alone we only have a few butchers left. I’m talking about the neighborhood butcher, not that gourmet food store up the street. You know the place – the guy/gal behind the counter has butchers hands and fingers, you know his/her name and he/she knows your name, they don’t switch employees as quickly as McDonald’s and they can easily ask you if you want “the regular”. Word is that the decline in these gems is because young people aren’t interested in carrying on the family trade. Maybe with this economic downward spiral Americans will be more willing to work with their hands again and see the beauty how happy meat/poultry can make people.
Jonny and I have wanted to try and make a dish that we ate in Florence, Italy at the awesome Coco Lezzone since the last time we recreated their Pappa al Pomodoro. It was one of those meals from start to finish that will forever stay etched in my mind. Saveur did a cover story on their Herb-Stuffed Pork Loin in their April, 2006 issue. We tweaked the recipe just a bit (lavender wasn’t a part of the original recipe) and, thanks to our awesome butcher, the dish turned out phenomenally. We’re going to do a version of this for Christmas Day dinner because it’s pretty inexpensive and extremely delicious. I highly recommend you go give your butcher a big hug tomorrow.
COCO LEZZONE’S HERB AND LAVENDER-STUFFED PORK LOIN RIB ROAST – Serves 6
- 1 6-rib center-cut pork loin roast (about 4-5 lbs)
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and ground to a paste
- 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
- 3 tablespoons of chopped sage
- 2 tablespoons of thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender
- 2 tablespoons + 1/4 (or so) cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
What to do:
- Preheat over to 475 degrees. In a small bowl, add together the garlic, all the herbs and lavender with a pinch of salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Use a fork to make sure it’s all incorporated together.
- Push the handle of a long wooden spoon through the center of one end of the pork roast allowing it to poke through the other end’s center. Do this again, moving the handle back and forth and in a circular motion to allow the hole to get bigger. It will end up being about 3/4 of an inch wide.
- Reserve about 3/4 of a tablespoon of the herb mixture to be use in a moment. Using your fingers, push some of the herb/garlic mixture into the center hole starting on one side and the finishing on the other. Put roast in a roasting pan.
- Pour about 1/4 cup or so of olive oil over the roast. Rub it in a bit. Using the reserved herb mixture, rub all around the top and sides of the rib roast. Season generously with salt and pepper and roast the pork in the oven until golden brown – about 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and continue to roast for an hour longer or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
- Allow pork to rest about 10 minutes and then carve into individual chops. Serve with the pan drippings (which are DEEE-LISH, by the way!).