When I went grocery shopping last week, my market had packages of thick, boneless pork loin chops on sale, buy 1 package, get 1 free. How could I beat that? Wanting to do something a little different with them, Ann of Thibeault's Table suggested I use them for braciole. I'd already made the biscotti and thought this would be the perfect prelude to them!
I've only had beef braciole in the past, so this was intriguing. I found a Giada deLaurentiis recipe on the FoodNetwork website and adapted it to the pork. Since pork isn't generally as flavorful as beef, I added some fresh basil to the filling and a little more garlic. I omitted the provolone originally called for as I had none at hand. Next time I will try it and see if I care for that in my braciole. I made a small batch of my own sauce, which was very similar to Giada's though mine doesn't have celery or carrots. I was very happy with the results. I made parmesan roasted potatoes to go with. And I was right... it was the perfect prelude to the biscotti!!
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 2 tablespoons additional chopped basil for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 center cut, thick, boneless pork loin chops
1 cup dry white wine
3 1/4 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend and 2 tablespoons of basil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.
Butterfly chops and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the cutlets to cover the tops evenly. Roll up each cutlet as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the pork rolls to secure. Sprinkle the braciole with salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake until the meat is almost tender, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes. After 1 hour, uncover and continue baking until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer. The total cooking time should be about 1-1/2 hours.
Remove the braciole from the sauce. Using a large sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over, sprinkle with additional chopped basil, and serve.
Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Yield: 6 cups