A pork roast is a thing of beauty. It’s also delicious. You know The Goddess has never met a cut of pork she didn’t dream about, and then devour. This is based on a pork roast we ate in a little trattoria in Florence, Italy. Maybe it was the place in time, the fact that “The David” was nearby, or that we’d walked for hours, but I don’t think so. I think it was a fabulous piece of pork, beautifully flavored with rosemary, thyme and garlic. Florence is a beautiful city, and if you haven’t been there, go. Go now! You’ll fall in love with the city and the art. But, you’ll find the food memories linger and haunt you, too. This is Tuscany. Not very pasta-centric. Think more meat and vegetables. It’s home to wonderful peasant food, like Ribollita and the not-so-peasanty, Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
This pork roast is stuffed with a simple spinach, sun-dried tomato and bacon stuffing. You’ll want to stuff it and season the meat the day before and chill it overnight. The absolute, hand-down, best way to roast meat is to start it low and slow, let it rest when it’s done and then just before serving, blast the bejesus out of it with really high heat, but for a very short period of time. You’re not trying to cook the meat further, just brown it up nicely. It’s the Serious Eats way of cooking a big hunk of meat, and those are some wicked smart people over there. I serve this with small roasted potatoes and green beans.
I butterfly the roast, lengthwise, but not all the way through. Think an open book or well, a butterfly. I rub some garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper over the meat, pack the stuff on one side of the “book”, close it up and tie it with kitchen string, at about 1 1/2 inch intervals. As I mentioned, I do this the day before, because I want it ready to go and it’s always good to allow the flavors to meld. Do remember to return the meat to room temperature before you roast it. Also, you’ll need to do some simple math to make certain you’re starting this early enough…for a 7 pound roast, it will take about 35-40 per pound to reach an internal temperature of 175°F, or about 4 1/2 hours. BUT, you’ll need to let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Then, into a screaming hot oven to bring the outside of the meat to an incredibly appetizing level of browness. God, I can taste it, can’t you? You might need to add some extra water to the pan, as the meat roasts, but you don’t need to hover. Just check it about every hour. By the way, your home will smell heavenly during this whole process. Yes, that right. Heaven smells like roasting pork!
Florentine Pork Roast with Garlic & Rosemary
- 7 pound boneless pork butt with a fat cap
- 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely grated
- 1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 ounce sun-dried tomato strips (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/2 cup crumbled bacon bits
- 1-inch cube Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
- 2 teaspoons dry rosemary, crushed between your fingers
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2-3 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest (optional)
The day before you’re serving the roast, season it. Using a very sharp knife, cut the pork butt in half, lengthwise, almost all the say through…think opening the roast like a book. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and the black pepper. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and grate the garlic over the meat; rub the oil and garlic all over the opening you created; set aside.
In a bowl, combine the spinach, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, and dried rosemary. Combine to mix thoroughly. Drop the stuffing onto the meat and spread it evenly on the bottom half of “the book”. Flop the top half of the meat over the stuffing, like you’re closing “the book”. Using kitchen string, tie the roast together in 1 1/2-inch intervals. You can sew the side shut or use metal skewers to hold the meat together. Do whatever works best for you. Wrap the meat well in plastic, place in a pan and refrigerate overnight.
About 2 hours before you’re going to begin roasting the meat, remove it from the fridge and bring to room temperature. When you’re ready to roast, rub the outside of the meat with the garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, if using and olive oil. Season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the meat in a large skillet or roasting pan; add water or white wine to a depth of 1/2 inch. Place the pan in a preheated 300°F oven and roast the meat until the internal temperature is around 175°F, or about 35-40 minutes per pound. For this piece of meat it will take about 4 1/2 hours, but you should start checking the meat after 3 hours. Check every 20 minutes. When you achieve the proper internal temperature, remove the pan from the oven and place the meat on a foil-line cookie sheet (with an edge). Tent the meat with foil; set the meat aside for at least 30 minutes (it will hold for up to an hour).
Meanwhile, place the skillet (roasting pan) on the burner and make your gravy or sauce for the meat and prepare the remaining side dishes. About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oven to 475°F. Place the roast back in the oven for more or less 15 minutes or until the meat is browned and crispy. Remove the meat from the oven, place the roast on a serving platter and slice into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices; serve immediately. This is excellent with roasted potatoes and simple green beans.
NOTE: When you return the meat to the very hot oven, this is just to brown it. You can slice it immediately after this, without resting, because it has already rested. It will be juicy and delicious.
Florentine Pork Roast with Garlic and Rosemary Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
We shared this with someone near and dear. It’s a huge roast, because we always like to share and have leftovers. The pork is loaded with different flavors, so we kept the sides simple…roasted sweet and baby Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted green beans with pearl onions. This way, you still have room for dessert!