When I cook, I want everyone at the table to feel treated and indulged without running myself ragged in the process. So my favorite recipes have a low difficulty factor but a high impressive factor. Recipes like this Lemon- and Prosciutto-Stuffed Pork Loin.
The most difficult thing about the recipe is cutting the loin into one flat, rectangular piece of meat. Some call it a roll cut, because the reassembled roast looks like a jelly roll, and some call it butterflying But I call it a spiral cut because, after the roast cooks, you slice it to reveal impressive spirals of meat and filling.
And the good news is it’s not that difficult at all. Even better, it’s also very forgiving. Because once the meat is stuffed, rolled, cooked, and sliced, most imperfections become unnoticeable.
So, here’s how to make a spiral-cut roast:
1. Start with a pork, beef, or lamb loin—you want an essentially cylindrical piece of meat. You can use a pork tenderloin, but because that’s so tiny it takes a little more finesse. If you’re a first-timer, go with something bigger.
2. Arrange the meat on a work surface with one of the ends of the cylinder closest to you, fat side down. Use a very sharp knife to cut down the entire length of the cylinder (the right side if you’re right-handed), about 1/2-inch in from the edge, and stopping about 1/2 inch from the cutting board. In other words, cut as if you’re trimming 1/2 inch from one long side of the meat, but stop 1/2 inch of completely cutting it off. You’ll basically have a flap of meat flopping to the right (if you’re right-handed).
3. Change the angle of the knife so that it’s parallel to the cutting board. Starting where the flap meets the rest of the cylinder, cut inwards (to the left if you’re right-handed) 1/2 inch above the cutting board. This will be less like using your knife to saw through the meat and more like running the tip of your knife the length of the cylinder, to make an inch-ish deep gash parallel to the cutting board.
4. Continue to make this cut inwards, using long strokes with the tip of your knife and using your other hand to roll the meat away from those strokes (towards the left if you’re right-handed), as if you’re unrolling a carpet. Eventually you’ll have one large rectangle of meat that’s about 1/2 inch thick.
5. The surface of the meat may look pretty ragged, especially if you’ve never done this before. Do not worry about it. There may be parts where you’ve accidentally cut through the meat. Don’t worry about it. Rest assured that once the meat is stuffed, rolled up, cooked, and sliced, most of these imperfections will be unnoticeable.
6. Run your hands over the meat. If there are parts that feel particularly thick, make a slit to open those parts up—as if you were opening up a book—and then even out the thickness by smoothing that “book” open.
7. If necessary, review step 5.
8. Your roast is ready to stuff.
If you’re a visual learner, there are a lot of videos about how to do this—here’s my favorite (the first 4 minutes are the applicable parts).
Lemon- and Prosciutto-Stuffed Pork Loin. It’s ideal for all your spring entertaining, and a great opportunity to practice a crowd-wowing spiral cut.
Like all the best recipes, it’s delicious, and the difficulty factor is low while the impressive factor is sky high.