A PIEDMONT RECIPE: ROAST OF PORK WITH HAZELNUTS

A RECIPIE FROM ALTA LANGA – ROAST OF PORK WITH HAZELNUTS – 6 to 8 servings

Difficulty – Easy

Time to prepare 1 ½ hour

As you may know by now, especially if you have taken the time to read some other blogs of mine discussing the Roero wine district, and the regional cuisine of Southern Piedmont, there is no such thing as an “Italian Cuisine”: the cuisine in Italy is by definition local. It is specialized region by region and it makes the most of what the local environment has to offer in veggies or meat (some time even game, lord master allowing).

Thus it should come as no surprise that Alta Langa, “Alta” because this very hilly part of Langa is 600 meters or more above sea level, has perfected a very specific sauce that goes very well with a roast of pork, in the case of this recipe, but also of veal, of beef or of rabbit.

At this altitude you are no longer surrounded by the ubiquitous Nebiolo vineyards, famous for their Barolo, Barbaresco or Roero by-products: you are surrounded by hazelnut grove. Here is where you find what the local believe to be the best hazelnut in the world, the “nocciola tonda gentile della Langa”, literally the “kind, round Langa's hazelnut”. This, by the way, is the very hazelnut used to make the “Nutella” spread.

Of course you can use any other type of hazelnut: the only thing you have to do is either buy them already roasted or roast them in the oven. For this recipe I assume that you can buy roasted hazelnut at your local supermarket.

Ingredients

  • · For the roast of pork

750 gr of pork (ask your butcher to serve you a rack of deboned pork chops),

2-3 leafs of laurel,

a twig of rosemary,

2-3 cloves of garlic,

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil,

a tablespoon o “soffritto”,

butter,

salt ,

pepper.

  • · For the hazelnut sauce

30 oven toasted hazelnuts,

50 gr of butter,

1 tablespoon of milk,

flour as required,

Marsala wine.

Preparation

Pour the olive oil in a pan, bring to frying temperature, add a tablespoon of “soffritto”, spread it well, than top it with the rack of pork. Turn the heat down and brown the meat evenly. Be careful not to burn the “soffritto”: stir occasionally while turning the pork, and sprinkle with dry white wine as required. You should be done with this in about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 1200C (2500F) and keep cooking the pork for about 45 minutes. At this temperature the roast will maintain more flavor and moisture, will cook evenly, and will remain a mouth watering pink inside. Top the pork once or twice with a slice of butter, and add some white wine if the juice is too dry. The pork is perfectly cooked when the inside temperature is around 700C ( about 1600F). Should you be missing a meat thermometer, as I do, than puncture the meat with a long toothpick: the pork is cooked to perfection when no juices exits the puncture.

Let the roast cool, then cut in tiny slices and put in a cooking pot: you'll use it later in the oven to heat the meat just before serving. While the meat is cooling grind thoroughly the hazelnut to a fine pulp.

Scoop the cooking juices, pour in the ground hazelnut, add the Marsala wine, heat and mix . The sauce should be moist but not liquid. When dry add some milk, when watery add some flour and butter.

Serving

Heat the sliced roast of pork as well as the hazelnut sauce. Serve warm as shown with, in this case, roast potatoes and carrots.

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