Just because Labor Day has come and gone doesn't mean you should pack up your grill. Standing over a flaming hot grill during the height of summer can have its challenges, so take advantage of the cooler days to cook outdoors. My only suggestion is to replace that cold beer with a glass of red wine!
Like many people, when the seasons change, so does my style of cooking. Once that first cool breeze hits the air, I think about using different ingredients and cooking techniques. A great representation of this is a dish I recently made utilizing pork shoulder, herbs, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce. I call it pork involtini; involtini meaning “rolls” in Italian.
The greatest things about this dish are its depth of flavor and simplicity. It's also excellent for a dinner party, because it can be made in advance… something I know we all appreciate!
Let's make some involtini!
- Head to the butcher counter at your favorite grocery store, and ask for thinly sliced pork shoulder. I typically plan for 3 per person if you want to end up with leftovers.
- Lay the thinly sliced pieces of pork shoulder between two sheets of plastic wrap, and lightly pound to expand the surface area and to ensure they are even in thickness.
- In a medium-size bowl mix together coarsely ground breadcrumbs such as Panko, just enough extra virgin olive oil to moisten the breadcrumbs, rough chopped herbs of your choice (I used some pesto I had on hand) and half the amount of grated cheese to breadcrumbs. I like the sharp flavor of parmesan, but smoked provolone would be delicious, too!
- Lay the thinly sliced and lightly pounded pork shoulder on your work surface, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture onto each slice of the pork.
- Working from the smaller end, roll the pork shoulder around the breadcrumbs until you have a fairly tight roulade.
- Secure the seam with a toothpick or two.
- Season the outside of the involtini with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat your gas or charcoal grill with a two-zone fire, meaning medium heat on one side and low heat on the other.
- Grill the involtini over the hot side of the grill on all sides until golden brown.
- Transfer the involtini to the cooler side of the grill, close the lid and gently cook until the pork is completely cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- While this step is happening, pour your favorite tomato sauce into a shallow, wide pan and preheat the oven to 300º.
- Transfer the pork to the pan, nestling the rolls into the tomato sauce. Cover, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. At this point the pork will already be cooked through, but this step is to marry the flavors and keep the pork moist.
- Transfer the pork to plates, remove the toothpicks and top with a little dollop of tomato sauce.
- Grab that glass of red wine I mentioned, and Mangia!
Whether you need to brush up on your grilling skills or fine tune your techniques, it's never too late in the season to start grilling. Don't let that nip in the air deter you from cooking outdoors this fall.
The Chopping Block has several grilling classes to keep the dream alive, so take a look at our Lincoln Square class calendar for a wide variety of outdoor cooking classes. October was just released today, which also includes grilling classes. We'll keep grilling until Mother Nature shuts us down!