For years, I’ve been a fan of the British chef Jamie Oliver. His down-to-earth approach to food and emphasis on rich flavor have led me to add several of his cookbooks to my collection. One of my latest additions is Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, a companion volume to his television series by the same name, which is the source of today’s recipe.
In fact, it was watching him prepare this dish, which he calls “Crispy Parma Pork,” that led me to buy the book and attempt to replicate his 15-minute execution of the recipe. Working with that time limit was challenging, and it was made even more stressful by a poorly written recipe. Nevertheless, while I may have failed the speed test, I succeeded in turning out a delicious reproduction of the dish and its side of minted zucchini.
My race against time reminded me of a newly-wed friend who many years ago attempted a recipe from the then popular 60-Minute Gourmet cookbook by Pierre Franey for one of her first dinner parties after her wedding. As the rest of the guests were enjoying cocktails in the living room, my friend disappeared into the kitchen and didn’t seem to be coming back to join us. When I went to the kitchen to offer a hand, she was in a panic. Nothing was going right; the small kitchen looked like a war zone; dinner was going to be late. I remained in the kitchen for quite a while, lending a hand with the prep, and then returned to the party. By that time, everyone was on their second cocktail and oblivious to our absence. Dinner was finally served and my friend toasted for her successful meal.
This memory caused me to adapt the book’s super-speed recipe for cooks like me who don’t do well under pressure and take a more conventional approach to cooking. Prepping everything before starting to cook and having all the equipment lined up and ready to go should eliminate, or at least reduce, the stress.
Even with this more leisurely approach, this dinner comes together relatively quickly, maybe 30 to 45 minutes at most, and is as attractive as it is delicious. The pork is tender and juicy, infused with the flavors of prosciutto and sage and enriched with the molten feta at its core. Finishing with the chopped mint and balsamic adds an herbal and sweet counterpoint to the salty prosciutto and feta.
The minted zucchini spiced with the chopped chili is the perfect side dish. I also served couscous in place of the original menu’s richer brown-rice dish and, as I was cooking for two, halved the recipe.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Medallions Stuffed with Feta (adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver in Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals)
8 ounces pork fillet
¾ ounces feta
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of prosciutto, just large enough to wrap the medallions in a single layer
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 fresh sage leaves
For the Minted Zucchini:
2 medium zucchini, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
1. Cut the pork fillet into 4 equally sized medallions and make a small slit in the middle of each of them.
2. Cut the feta into 4 pieces and plug them into the slits in the meat.
3. Sprinkle a little black pepper over the meat and wrap the medallions with a slice of prosciutto.
4. Flatten the medallions with a pan or your palm and put them into the frying pan, prosciutto-side down, cheese-side up, with 1 tablespoon of oil.
5. Over medium heat, turn them regularly until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes.
6. Place the zucchini slices with 1 tablespoons of oil in the casserole. Add the garlic through and turn the heat up to high. Add the chili and 3/4 of the mint to the casserole, season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir regularly until softened and delicious, about 5 to 6 minutes.
7. Add the sage leaves to the pork pan for 30 seconds and fry until crispy.
8. Place the zucchini onto warmed plates and arrange the pieces of meat and sage leaves on top.
9. Sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over the meat and sprinkle on the rest of the mint leaves.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir