This evening I've cooked some extremely scrummy Pork Fillet with Pesto. You could use commercially prepared pesto, but I made my own. It's dead easy, takes minutes to prepare and it tastes wonderful. It is real restaurant/dinner party food! Here's what you do ...
For the Pesto
This makes enough pesto for at least two pork fillets. It can be made a day or two in advance; just store it in the fridge. And of course you could use for anything else where you want pesto.
A bunch of fresh Basil (I used the end of a pot of Basil, including the stems)
A small bunch of fresh Coriander (optional)
A couple of good squirts of Garlic Purée (maybe 2 tbsp)
A glug of good Olive Oil (not too much)
Black Pepper to taste
Put all the ingredients in the food processor. Don't add too much olive oil; you want the pesto to be fairly stiff, not slishy; you can add more oil if it ends up too stiff. Whizz everything together until you've got a chunky paste.
For the Pork
You can prepare the pork fillet a few hours in advance (even the night before, if fridged) as it will improve for marinading in the pesto.
You'll want one whole Pork Fillet for every two people.
1. Preheat the oven to 200C (gas mark 6); use the fan if you have one.
2. Cut the pork fillet lengthways but not all the way through and open it out. Do this again down each half and fold the edges out again.
3. Put the fillet on a piece of clingfilm on a flat surface and cover with another piece of clingfilm. Now beat the pork out flatter with a steak hammer or rolling pin. You're aiming to roughly double the width of the pork which should end up no more than 5mm thick.
4. Remove the top layer of clingfilm and cover the pork in a good layer of pesto.
5. Roll the pork along the long edge like a Swiss roll; you may need to tie it with string 2 or 3 times to stop it falling apart.
6. Place the pork roll on an oiled baking sheet.
7. Any pesto left over, or any which oozed out the ends, can be used to coat the outside of the pork.
8. Cover with foil and roast in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. Check the pork is done by stabbing with a knife to see if the juices are clear. You can remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to brown.
9. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving in slices with potatoes and veg of your choice.
1. Red pesto should work as well as the more traditional green.
2. If you want to add something extra put a layer of prosciutto on the pork before adding the pesto; or wrap the rolled pork in bacon.
3. If you want to trim the untidy ends from the pork fillet then do so. They can also be beaten out and placed inside the main piece before rolling.
4. The oil in the pesto makes this slightly oily although most of the oil will drain out; the rest keeps the meat nice and succulent.
5. Do not under cook pork; however also take care not to overcook as it can get tough and dry.
6. I served mine with steamed new potatoes and steamed asparagus.
Finally many thanks to Lily on the butchery counter of our local Waitrose for the idea, which I adapted slightly.