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Butter-basted pork loin with stuffing crust & cheesy polenta

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only
Bring big flavours and contrasting textures to your Sunday lunch table with this juicy roast pork, crusted with crunchy sage and onion stuffing

  • Prep: 30 mins
    Cook: 1 hrs 45 mins
  • Serves 4 generously
  • More effort
  • Serves 4 generously
  • More effort
  • Calories 1106
  • Carbohydrates 26
  • Saturated Fat 42
  • Sugar 8
  • Protein 54
  • Fat 87
  • Fibre 2
  • Salt 5.4

Nutrition per serving

  • Calories 1106
  • Carbohydrates 26
  • Saturated Fat 42
  • Sugar 8
  • Protein 54
  • Fat 87
  • Fibre 2
  • Salt 5.4

Ingredients

  • 1kg pork loin, bone out and skinned (see tip, below left), but with a good layer of fat
  • ½ tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 100g butter
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and bashed (save 2 for the stuffing)
  • ½ bunch rosemary, tied together
  • 2 tbsp picked lemon thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • zest and juice 2 lemons
  • 2 large or 4 small thick slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried onion
  • 6 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 100g instant polenta
  • 100g butter
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
  • ½ fresh truffle, grated (optional)
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely snipped chives
  • steamed Romanesco or broccoli, to serve
  • toasted chopped hazelnuts, to serve

Tip

How to use truffle oil
Watch Tom's video guide to using truffle oil. 

Get ahead
The cheesy polenta and the pork benefit from being made when you need it, but the stuffing can be made up to 2 days ahead without the parsley. Store it in an airtight container, then simply stir through the parsley on the day you cook the roast. 

Butcher's choice
You need a skinless piece of pork loin for this recipe. If you’re not confident about tying it, show your butcher the recipe and ask them to carry out step 2, so you buy the pork scored, tied and ready to cook. If you’re a fan of crackling (who isn’t?), ask your butcher to keep the pork skin for you (you’ve paid for it) and freeze it to make extra crackling next time you have a roast. 

Fresh truffles
If you can get hold of fresh truffles, they will really make this dish – and cheesy polenta is the perfect foil for them. You can buy them at ocado.com or specialist shops. Or just use truffle oil to give it that luxurious flavour. 

Digital cooking thermometers
Forget flash knives, if you want to make a real difference to your cooking and cook meat with total precision, buy a digital thermometer. They work on two levels: they tell you when something like a steak is cooked to your liking, and they guarantee that meat is cooked through. Like a lot of chefs, I’ve taken to cooking meat at a much lower temperature, and using a digital cooking thermometer means I know just when it is cooked to perfection. 

Tom's twists
1) For a hit of heat and to help the crumb stick to the meat, brush the pork with English mustard before rolling it in the crumbs. 2) The crumb stuffing is a versatile garnish. When I make it to sprinkle over beef, I add freshly grated horseradish, and for lamb I swap the parsley for mint. At Christmas we serve it with a turkey dish and I blitz pork scratchings with the toast – it tastes great! 

Method

  1. First, make the stuffing crust, as this will keep. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with the rapeseed oil and dust with the cayenne pepper. Bake in the oven until the bread is completely dry and browned just a little – this will take about 20 mins. Remove from the oven and rub with the garlic cloves while still warm. Use a whole clove on each slice, or half if you have small slices. Leave the toasted slices to cool, then put them in a food processor and blitz to rough but not too big breadcrumbs. Empty the crumbs into a mixing bowl and add the dried sage and onion, the parsley and a good pinch of sea salt. Mix together, then set aside in an airtight container. Can be made up to 2 days ahead without the parsley (see tip, below left).

  2. Turn down the oven to 120C/100C fan/ gas ½. Score the layer of fat on the pork with a sharp knife, working diagonally along the length, then score again in the opposite direction. Tie the loin with butcher’s string to help keep its shape and cook evenly. Heat the rapeseed oil in an ovenproof frying pan and add the pork, fat-side down. Sear and brown the top layer of fat, then turn the pork over and throw in the butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper and 2 tsp table salt. Once the butter has melted, add the lemon zest and juice to create a fragrant cooking liquor. Roll the pork around in the buttery juices and baste so that it is well coated.

  3. Place the pan with the pork in the oven and set your timer for 1 hr 15 mins. Baste the meat with the buttery juices every 15 mins. At the end of the cooking time, test the thickest part of the pork with a digital thermometer – it should read 70C when ready. If the meat hasn’t reached the temperature, return it to the oven for 5 mins, then check again. Once the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 mins. If you don’t have a digital thermometer, cook the pork for 1 hr 20 mins.

  4. While the pork is resting, pour the milk for the polenta into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk in the polenta and cook over a medium heat until thickened, following pack instructions – it needs to be the texture of creamy mash. If your polenta is too thick, add a little more milk to loosen it. When it is ready, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, Parmesan, lemon zest, truffle oil, fresh truffle (if using), salt and the cayenne to taste. Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle over the chives.

  5. Untie the rested pork loin and give it a final baste with the cooking liquor. Tip the crust into a roasting tin, then roll the pork loin in it, making sure it gets a good covering. Thickly slice the pork and serve with the soft polenta, Romanesco or broccoli sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts, and the buttery juices.

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