Monday, June 8, 2015

Easy and Elegant Pork Dish

Whether you are looking for an elegantly easy recipe for a nice dinner with friends, or just something for any night, these Pork Rolls with Feta, Artichoke and Capers are just perfect. The idea for these pork rolls came when watching The Chew one day last week. Often there will be a segment where Michael Symon pairs off with Daphne Oz. Michael will make a certain dish in his normal fashion, with no skimping on either flavor or calories. Daphne will make a version of something similar, where she will use ingredients that really amp up the flavor, but tone down calories or excessive fats. It so happens in this particular episode, both the dishes sounded amazing. In particular, Daphne (using chicken breast meat instead of Michael's use of fattier chicken thigh meat) made a wonderful filling with Castelvetrano olives, capers and a few other things. 

Pork Rolls with Feta, Artichoke Caper Filling

I had some boneless pork loin chops in the fridge, and wanted to try using them this way, pounded thin and stuffed, then rolled. I really liked the sound of Daphne's olive-caper filling. The only difficulty fell in that my husband won't eat olives.

I love olives. Maybe the simple black olives in a can are not my favorite flavor profile, but I will eat them anyway, if they are in a dish. Possibly my favorite olives are Nicoise. I love stuffed green olives, Kalamatas and so many others. I believe I have tried Castelvetrano olives once some years ago, but cannot be absolutely positive at this remove. After researching a bit, I confirmed what Daphne said about Castelvetrano olives being milder in flavor, and less salty. I would have loved to try them in this dish, but I figured that whether mild or not, it still might be too much for my husband's taste. 

So, What Substitutes for Olives in a Recipe?

Browning the Pork Rolls
I spent a while looking online for suggestions to replace olives in a recipe. In most cases, capers were the suggestion. Since capers were already a part of the ingredients, more capers would not be useful. Since most olives are rather salty, some suggested meats such as prosciutto. I know that meats are used as ingredients in a stuffing for another meat, but I didn't want to go with that much meat in this case (the recipe called for a cup of Castelvetrano olives, so a cup of whatever ingredient to sub). Another ingredient in the filling was Feta cheese, and as that is also salty, it seemed to me using too much salty prosciutto would be less palatable. 

And then I found a suggestion for using artichoke hearts! This seemed the perfect solution for the dilemma. Artichoke hearts are mild flavored, enough so to make the bulk of the filling without going crazy on the salt level. Hurrah!

Daphne's recipe for the filling (found here), was used to fill chicken breast cutlets pounded thin. I had pork loin chops. The one thing I really would have added to the recipe I was adapting from Daphne's was fresh rosemary. She was going for Mediterranean flavors, and I liked that profile. Rosemary is also Mediterranean flavor. However, the rosemary I had in the fridge had gone all black, and it was too late to run to the store. The recipe would have to do without, at least this time. Both Michael and Daphne's recipes used cheese in the filling. Michael used goat cheese, which I love, but I wanted to keep Daphne's use of Feta in this recipe. The mixture just sounded so good. I may have to go back and re-examine Michael Symon's recipe (found here) and try it too. For now, my recipe played off Daphne's, and the results were marvelous. A little rosemary would have really taken the flavors even more the direction I wanted, but for now, this worked very well.

The last thing I altered was browning the rolls before popping them into the oven to finish cooking. Michael did this with the chicken thighs, but Daphne's version went straight to the oven. I chose the fry first and oven finish method, because I wanted the pork to look golden and appetizing. Twenty minutes in the oven will not brown as nicely as a quick frying will!

Quite on its own, this recipe is also completely gluten free! Michael Symon's recipe used bread crumbs, though bread crumbs can also be made easily from gluten free bread.

Pork Rolls with Feta, Artichoke and Capers

makes 4 servings
Pork Roll with Feta, Artichoke and Capers

4 boneless pork loin chops
salt and pepper for seasoning
4 ounces grated/crumbled Feta cheese
1 (7-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup chopped dates
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (dried is fine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
more olive oil for browning

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chops, one at a time, between plastic wrap and pound them very thin, until they are about 5 x 6-inches. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside. If using a block of Feta, grate it on a large holed grater, or chop or crumble finely. Set aside.

Place the drained artichoke hearts, dates, capers, garlic parsley, orange juice concentrate and orange zest into the bowl of a food processor. Process, while adding in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Scrape down as necessary to process evenly. Pour out into a bowl and stir in the Feta cheese until combined. Divide this mixture between the 4 pounded pork cutlets. Pat to evenly distribute, leaving the end farthest from you free for about 1-inch. Roll the pork, starting at the end closest to you, without smashing the filling out. Secure the rolls with a toothpick if necessary. 

Heat a skillet to high and add a little olive oil. Brown the rolls quickly on all sides, about 5 minutes, total. Set them on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Remove from oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.