k Pork Fillet with fresh fig stuffing wrapped in Iberico ham and crushed walnuts k
The north of the island where I’m very lucky to live is a foragers paradise and we have an incredible bounty of wild fig trees that have had a long summer cultivating these incredible fruits.
In a strict botanical sense, fig ‘fruits’ are actually inside-out flower clusters called syconia – they are fleshy structures of tissue, lined on the inside with hundreds of minute flowers. Just by gently squeezing them open you can see the stunning flower-like structure within. It’s no wonder figs have been associated with love, sexuality and fertility… and therefore labelled as an aphrodisiac food. But they are more than just a symbol of sensuality – they are ripe with potassium, fibre, flavonoids and antioxidants that help promote wellbeing and energy.
I adore roasting them and serving with a generous dollop of mascarpone, drizzled with honey and toasted almonds – but here I thought I would try a savoury/sweet version and use the figs as a delicious stuffing of this classic pork fillet recipe.
Pork and fruit is always a good idea, so here we have Pig and the Fig – a slight remake of the glorious late summer combo of Iberico ham and fresh figs. Once the pork fillet is stuffed it is seared to lock in the precious juices, then rolled in chopped walnuts (another perfect food paring) before it is wrapped in wonderful Iberico ham. I’m all for Joyce Goldstein’s theory “what grows together goes together.”….and nature is the chef to help the harmony happen. So here we have the delicate saltiness of the ham and a seasonal symphony of sweetness and nuttiness from the walnuts and figs. Food heaven.
I serve this cooked on the slightly pink side which is honestly not a health risk. I accompany the dish with rosemary and thyme roasted baby potatoes and a courgette parmigiana – another late summer delight that works magically with the sweetness of the pork.
Ingredients serves 4-6
For the stuffing
1-2 organic free range pork fillets (depending on the size)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbsp dried thyme
3-4 fresh figs roughly chopped
Zest of half an orange
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
The wrap and crust
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
75g walnuts, chopped
100g good quality Iberico ham
100ml chicken stock
- Start off by making the stuffing for the pork fillet. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, then gently saute the onion and thyme together until soft. This should take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes.
- Remove the pan off the heat and add the chopped figs, orange zest and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Now prepare the pork fillet. Put a large piece of clingfilm on a work surface and place the pork onto. Use a sharp knife to carefully make an incision through the long length of pork fillet and open like a book. Stuff the pork fillet with the filling then close the fillet back together. Use the clingfilm to tightly wrap it and twist at the end – rather like a sweet in a wrapper. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Remove the clingfilm from the fillet and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and on a high heat brown the stuffed pork fillet all over to seal in its juices. Remove the meat from the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the mustard all over the sealed pork fillet and then roll into the chopped walnuts, pressing firmly to coat the meat evenly.
- Again use a large piece of clingfilm and then lay the Iberico ham in long line equal to the length of the pork fillet. Place the pork on top and gather the sides of the cling film to wrap the ham around the pork. Chill again (this can be done in advance the day before if necessary).
- Place the pork fillet on a roasting tray and continue cooking in a hot oven at 200c for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through. Cover the pork with a sheet of foil half way through the cooking time to stop the meat from drying out
- Remove the cooked fillet from the oven and carefully transfer it onto a plate to rest. Cover again with the foil to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, add the chicken stock and Port to the roasting tray with the juices from the cooked fillet and place it on the heat to deglaze. Allow the juices to bubble for a minute or so to reduce and create a delicious sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove off the heat. Quickly cut the stuffed pork fillet into 1inch thick slices and serve with the reduced wine sauce and vegetables of your choice, I like to serve with a green salad and courgette parmigiana as the fresh tartness of the tomatoes really compliment the pork.