What’s in a name? We’ve been asking ourselves that since Shakespeare proffered the question in “Romeo and Juliet.”
We asked it again when we spied this recipe for Weeknight Porchetta from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Yes, it was the name “porchetta” that attracted our attention, but there were so many differences in approach that we were skeptical, despite Alison Roman’s introduction: “Sometimes it’s OK to cut corners. Here we make the classic Italian dish with bacon and skip the multiday air-drying process. It’s not traditional, but it sure is delicious.”
We gave it a try anyway and was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying the dish was on so many levels.
The roasted garlic is perfect by itself, if you want an appetizer to spread on toast; or you could pair it with another cut of meat, such as a juicy steak or a thick slab of prime rib.
Roman offers this insight into why you wrap the tenderloin in bacon: “As the bacon cooks, the fat renders, basting the tenderloin with flavor and ensuring it stays juicy (all while cooking perfectly itself). To keep the bacon in place, wrap the slices around the tenderloin, tucking ends underneath each other.”
One time we made the dish, we varied it by adding slices of apples at the last minute. The slices added to the overall dish; whether you like the baked apple slices depends on your fondness for rosemary, because they absorbed a lot of the herb’s flavor.
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 2 bulbs, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin
6-8 slices bacon
1-2 apples, cored and cut in small slices (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, fennel seeds, salt and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper.
Rub garlic mixture over all tenderloin (if you have time to do this in the morning, great; refrigerate pork until dinner). Scatter rosemary sprigs in a large baking dish and set tenderloin on top. Wrap bacon slices around tenderloin, tucking ends underneath, so bacon stays put. Nestle halved heads of garlic around tenderloin and add apple slices, if using. Drizzle everything with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of tenderloin registers 145 degrees for medium, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Approximate nutritional value per serving: 300 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g fiber
Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2015