For a guy who has created hundreds (if not thousands...it's true!) recipes over the years, it is difficult to choose my favorite recipes. But, this roast pork, which I created for the folks at Driscoll's Berries, is up at the top of the list. It is absolutely perfect for the holidays. The roast can be wrapped in the pancetta a day ahead and roasted just before dinner, and the pan deglazed with the premade sweet and savory sauce. Blackberries are not a traditional holiday ingredient, but they are in season in California and you will find plump, sweet purple berries in your market this week. They add an element of surprise to the classic holiday roast.
Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast with Blackberry-Sage Sauce
Makes 6 to 8 servings
For the holiday table, an extraordinary main course is in order. A wrapping of pancetta gives this pork roast a festive look, and the slightly spicy blackberry sauce will be a conversation piece. This is bound to become a family favorite. Serve it with whipped maple sweet potatoes and a simple green vegetables, such as buttered green beans and baby carrots with toasted and chopped roasted hazelnuts
1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 to 16 slices (not paper-thin) pancetta, about 4 ounces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2/3 cup hearty red wine, such as Shiraz
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 (6-ounce) packages (18 ounces) Driscoll’s Blackberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (optional)
1. To make the pork roast: Brush the pork all over with the oil. Mix the rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. Unroll each strip of pancetta--it will look like curved bacon. Arrange half of the pancetta over the top of the roast. Using kitchen twine, tie the pancetta in place crosswise, leaving the ends of the roast uncovered. Turn the roast over (don’t worry if it doesn’t look neat). Repeat with the remaining pancetta, tying the roast and tucking in the pancetta as needed. (The pancetta can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.) Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Place the pork roast on a roasting rack in a metal roasting pan. Bake, rotating the roast every 20 minutes or so for even browning, until the pancetta is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork reads 145ºF, about 1 1/2 hours. If the pancetta is getting too brown, tent the roast with aluminum foil. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan and reserve the pan.
3. To make the blackberry sage sauce: While the pork is roasting, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the 2 packages of blackberries, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, sage, salt, and hot red pepper and cook over high heat, stirring often, until the berry juice has big bubbles, about 7 minutes. The sauce should be fairly chunky. Stir in the remaining package of blackberries and cook just until warmed, about 1 minute. Set aside. (The sauce can be made up to 2 hours ahead, stored at room temperature.)
5. Heat the roasting pan over high heat until sizzling. Add the sauce and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits in the pan with a wooden spatula or spoon. If the sauce seems thin, stir as much of the optional dissolved cornstarch into the sauce as needed and boil just until lightly thickened, about 15 seconds. Adjust the seasoning with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and hot red pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
6. Snip off and discard the string from the roast. Carve crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve hot, with the warm sauce.
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