Traverse City Record-Eagle

Food

December 19, 2013

A lean holiday roast that doesn't skimp on flavor

My choice for an elegant holiday dinner? It’s hard to beat a roast, and more often than not my pick is a lean and moist pork tenderloin.

But let’s face it, as much as we want to be healthy, there is such a thing as roast that is too lean. A lack of fat often means a lack of flavor. So how to make up this deficit? With plenty of high-flavor ingredients, like prosciutto, fresh herbs, mushrooms and wine.

Prosciutto packs a ton of flavor, and the slight amount of fat it adds is well worth it. As for the herbs, I took a tip from the Italians, who often top off a grilled steak with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. I tested out several herbs in this recipe, both alone and in combinations. Though I was rooting for fresh sage — a classic match with prosciutto — my tasting panel (the family) overruled me in favor of rosemary and thyme.

Given the roast’s Italian inflections, I chose a mushroom Marsala sauce to go with it. Any mushroom will work, from the most affordable white button to the quite pricey shiitake. Whichever you choose, if you need to save time you usually can usually find them sliced and ready to go at the supermarket.

If you don’t have Marsala at home, you can swap in Madeira, dry sherry, white vermouth, or even white or red wine. All pair up nicely with mushrooms. And, as ever, if you don’t want to use alcohol, leave it out.

In order to stuff these pork roasts, you need to butterfly them. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry. You simply lay the log-shaped roast on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut in from the side of the roast about halfway down. Cut almost — but not completely — through; leave about 1/2 inch of meat on the far side. You should be able to open the roast like a book.

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