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Roasted Pork Loin with Kale and Polenta

Roasted Pork Loin with Kale and Polenta


  • 5 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen or ground fennel seed

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated

  • 1 rolled boneless pork loin roast (2 1/2-3 pounds)

  • 2 sprigs rosemary, broken or cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (8-10 pieces total)

  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese


Pre-heat the oven to 325°F. Combine the pancetta, fennel pollen and garlic in a small bowl. Cut 18-20 slits (2 inches deep) in the pork roast. Alternately fill the slits with the pancetta mixture and a piece of rosemary. Sprinkle the pork liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the EVOO in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Douse the pork with the wine and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 165°F, 20-30 minutes more. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the kale. Bring the stock and milk to a low boil in another pot for the polenta. Cook the kale for 7-8 minutes, then remove to a platter using tongs. Drizzle with EVOO and lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Whisk the polenta into the stock mixture and cook, whisking, until thick, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter followed by the cheese, then remove from the heat. Slice the pork and serve with the polenta and kale.

Cook's Note: The roasted pork can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal. Bring to room temperature, then reheat in a 325°F oven, covered, for 15 minutes, adding 1 cup chicken stock to the pot to keep it moist. Uncover and heat for 15-20 minutes more. You can prep the kale ahead of time and store it in a paper towel-lined plastic bag in the refrigerator.