19 June 2014
Pork roulade with beet greens and plum-thyme sauce
When you have a backyard full of plums -- especially if you're just not that into jam -- you really have to get creative about using them. So we decided to get fancy. How about a savory plum sauce?
We could have gone for the classic Chinese plum sauce with spring rolls, but we also had a bunch of fresh thyme and that beautiful CSA honey kicking around. So a more French-inspired sauce seemed in order. And what could we serve with this kind of sauce? The obvious answer is pork. How about a roulade?
So. We're essentially going to butterfly a pork chop per person, make a filling of greens and nuts, stuff the chop, and sear until done. Then we'll simmer pureed plums and seasonings to make a sauce. The end result looks complicated, and is amazingly delicious, but it's really not very difficult to cook at all.
This recipe will make enough filling and sauce for two pork chops. Any extra greens are delicious as a side dish.
If you want to feed a crowd and use up a boatload of plums, you can also double the filling and sauce recipes and stuff an entire pork tenderloin. You'll just need to roast it in the oven for a bit after searing, since such a large piece of meat won't cook through with just a sear. And OH MAN would that crowd be impressed when you served it. I'm just saying.
If you don't eat meat, you can still try out the greens and sauce! Cook them both (minus meat juices, of course), roast some potatoes, sear a piece of tofu, and you're all set for a delicious dinner. And I have one more vegetarian-appropriate sauce application to come later this week. Stay tuned!
Pork roulade with beet greens and plum-thyme sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch beet greens
double handful almonds, raw or roasted
salt & pepper
1 deboned, trimmed pork chop per person OR split it between two less meaty eaters
more salt & pepper
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme per chop
meat mallet or rolling pin
cooking twine or tinfoil to tie
~ 1 cup chopped fresh plums
1/2 cup water
leaves of 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp honey, to taste
2 tbsp dry white wine
yet more salt & pepper
Start by making the roulade filling. Melt a pat of butter in a wide saute pan while you crush and slice a few garlic cloves. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to turn golden.
Wash and chop a bunch of beet greens. You can also sub in chard or spinach here if you prefer (though spinach will cook down more, so you'll need two bunches if you go that direction).
Add the greens to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the greens are wilted. Chop your almonds and add them to the greens. Mix it together, and your filling is done.
Now is the time to start heating your meat pan. Just put a sufficiently large stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium-high heat and let it warm up while you're prepping your meat. A hot pan will ensure a good sear.
Butterfly your pork chops. You can check out this video for a visual. First, put your chop on a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, cut gradually in from the side opposite the fat cap, dividing the meat in half horizontally as best you can. If you make a mistake and cut through to the board, it's ok! Just back up and make a correct cut over the mistake. You won't even notice any mistakes once you're done. Cut 4/5 of the way through the chop, leaving it connected at the end. Then open it up like a book. Voila! You just butterflied a pork chop.
Lay your butterflied chop flat and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or butcher paper. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound it to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
To stuff your chop, season it liberally with salt and pepper and arrange it nicest side down. Put several spoonfuls of filling down the middle of the chop. You want to use just enough filling to let the meat wrap completely around it; mine is a little overfull here.
Roll up your chop and secure it with butcher twine or a few strips of tinfoil. I used a classic butcher's truss (video), but it's totally fine to improvise. Tuck your sprigs of thyme under the twine in several different spots around the chop.
Sear your roulades quickly on all sides in the prepared pan. It should take about three minutes per side to get a nice golden brown crust. If the roulade sticks, your pan may not be hot enough, or the meat may not be completely seared yet. Turn up the heat or try a few good shakes to release the meat from the pan.
When your roulades are seared, remove them from the pan to a plate and let them rest, covered loosely with foil, for a good five to seven minutes. Resting meat is super important! It will give the hot juices time to reabsorb into the meat, making for a juicy and evenly cooked roulade.
While you're waiting, it's time to make the sauce. Wash and chop your plums. Put them in a blender with the water and liquefy as best you can. There will be bits of plum peel floating around; that's ok.
Pour the liquefied plums into the same pan you used for the roulade and cook over medium-high, stirring to deglaze the crystallized meat juices. You can also add any accumulated juices from the meat plate. Add the thyme, honey, and white wine, season with a scant pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and reduced to approximately half its volume. Correct the seasonings, and your sauce is done. Hooray!
It's time to serve! Remove the butcher twine and thyme sprigs and slice your roulades into six or eight medallions each. Arrange them on a plate (on extra greens if you have any, or in a puddle of sauce if not) and ladle a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Four slices is a perfectly adequate serving, especially with some mashed potatoes and salad on the side; an entire roulade is a huge but very satisfying serving. It's all good.
Now serve it to your amazed guests. Or, you know, yourself.
This is hands down one of the best dinners we've made in months.
PS: Want more roulades? How about a venison roulade?