weeknight porchetta 

Sometimes there’s nothing more fun than taking a whole day (in the middle of a huge snow storm, for example?) to make a spiffy and time consuming recipe. I do it almost every time we have a Saturday dinner party, half wondering why in the heck it takes me a whole day to make dinner and half absolutely loving it. But sometimes you want something that feels really special and doesn’t crowd everything else off of your to-do list. For those times, this weeknight porchetta–a pork loin wrapped in bacon and seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic–has got you perfectly covered.

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The recipe was featured in the “Fast, Easy, Fresh” section of last January’s Bon Appétit, and I pinned it immediately…but didn’t get around making it til last weekend. It looked so good, but I had doubts. Though we ate it a lot growing up, I’ve almost never made pork loin myself. That plus the bacon gave me pause: it seemed inevitable that the cooking times wouldn’t match up, leaving me with either overdone pork and uncooked bacon or bacon charred to bits wrapped around unfinished pork. It didn’t help that Hal turned it down a few times when I included the recipe in a list of dinner possibilities (he now admits the error of his ways). But after my aunt Carolyn fed us a delicious marinated pork loin for Christmas and I remembered just how fast and easy they can in fact be, I was determined to give it a try. Thank goodness.

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the recipes calls for chopped fennel seeds, which has never worked for me. mortar + pestle all the way.

We decided to make this for dinner last Sunday, looking for a cozy and not too complicated cooking project to celebrate the three day weekend.The first step is mashing up a mixture of rosemary, garlic, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and olive oil and using it to coat the pork, and the recipe notes that it’s best to do this in the morning and refrigerate the pork til dinner. For my money, the weeknight porchetta has to give up it’s weeknight claim right there–my mornings have never been organized enough for garlic chopping. But, that little instruction is part of what makes this such a perfect weekend recipe. Just a few short prep steps to make you feel totally ahead of the dinner game, and the rest of your day is free.

all wrapped up.

all wrapped up.

I followed the Bon App recipe, and then made one tiny addition: putting the whole thing under the broiler for just a few minutes at the end of the cooking time. My mismatched loin and bacon predictions hadn’t come true, thank goodness, but I did think the bacon could use just a smidge more crisp. With a thinner cut of bacon (we used a thick cut, thanks to our sometimes too fancy for it’s own good Brooklyn grocery store) I think it would have been a non issue. The pork was perfectly cooked and oh so flavorful thanks to the spice mash, and the extra roasted garlic was so good we ate a borderline horrifying amount of it straight out of the pan. The whole thing looked impressive and tasted delicious, and when I asked Hal if he had any thoughts I should include in this post he just said, “make it again.” Noted.

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