Braised Pork Rolls with Pine Nut-Raisin Risotto

Braised Pork Rolls with Pine Nut-Raisin Risotto

Braciole, little bundles of poultry, beef, or pork stuffed with fillings, are a specialty in southern Italy. There, for centuries, inexpensive cuts of meat from the shoulder and leg have been pounded flat, salted and peppered, filled, and braised in tomato sauce. Stuffing slices of pork shoulder with the special risotto filling detailed here elevates these rolls to main-course status. This recipe, with raisins and pine nuts in a rich tomato sauce, is one of my favorites: a new take on an old classic. Makes 6 to 8 Servings

WINE PAIRING:  When raisins are used in a savory dish, Ripasso Valpolicella from the Veneto makes a delicious wine pairing. And in this case. Ripasso – a bright, extracted wine akin to a baby Amarone – echoes the sweetness of the raisins and savory flavors of the cheese and onions while supporting the weight of the braised pork.

Follow these steps to prepare the Braised Pork Rolls with Pine Nut-Raisin Risotto

FOR THE RISOTTO:

  • 4 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup dry Italian white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated to make ¾ cup
  • 2 slices medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped to make 1/3 cup
  • 2/3 cup dark raisins
  • Finely ground sea salt and white pepper
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio or Carnaroli superfino rice
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

FOR THE PORK BRACIOLE:

  • 12 TO 16 slices of pork shoulder (2 to 3 ounces each), pounded to 1/4 – inch thickness
  • 1/3 cup dry Italian white wine
  • 12 to 16 pieces of thin butcher’s or baker’s twine (2 to 4 feet each)
  • 1 (24-ounce) bottle Italian tomato puree (passata)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

MAKE THE RISOTTO

In a medium heavy-gauge saucepan or pot over medium heat, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer.

In a medium, heavy-gauge sauté pan or skillet at least 3 inches deep (with lid handry), combine the olive oil and onion over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned. It’s okay to add 2 tablespoons water to help the onion soften without browning, just be sure the water has evaporated before moving to the next step. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, until the kernels are well coated. Pour in the white wine and stir until the wine has evaporated. Ladle ½ cup of the simmering broth into the rice and stir until reduced by two thirds. Add another ladleful and stir again until the broth has reduced by two thirds. Repeat until most of the broth has been absorbed into the rice, which should take about 14 minutes from the time you begin adding the broth to the rice. At this point, the rice should be tender, but not mushy, with a creamy consistency. (You may have as much as a cup of broth left unused.)

Remove the risotto from the heat and cover the pot for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and add the cheese, dark and golden raisins, and the pine nuts, stirring until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

MAKE THE PORK BRACIOLE

Spread out a sheet of parchment paper on a clean work surface. Arrange the pork slices, widest ends facing you, on top of the parchment paper.  Scoop a rounded-tablespoonsful of the risotto onto the wide end of each side. Carefully tucking and folding, roll toward the narrow end of the slice until you finish with a little bundle. Grab a length of twine in one hand and wrap and spiral the twine around the bundle, holding the bundle with your other hand to ensure the filling is enclosed as much as possible and typing the loose ends of the twine when finished. Repeat with the remaining pork slices and filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On the stovetop, heat the olive oil in a heavy-gauge oven safe skillet with lid or large Dutch oven over medium heat. Place the braciole in the pan and sear on all sides. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the white wine, and simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the tomato puree. Remove for the heat. Cover the skillet or Dutch oven and roast for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Remove the twine from the braciole. Serve each bundle whole, or slice into several circular pieces and fan out on serving plates. Top each serving with some of the tomato sauce

NOTE: Be sure to precut your lengths of twine and make them plenty long – 2 to 3 feet of twine per bundle is not too much. Using some extra twine makes shaping the bundles a little easier, and you’ll be removing the twine before you serve the braciole anyway.

Reference:

“Braised Pork Rolls with Pine Nut-Raisin Risotto.” 100 Authentic Italian Rice Recipe for Antipasti, Soups, Salads, Risotti, One-Dish, and Dessert. New York: Rizzoli, 2018. 203-204. Print.

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