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Pancetta-wrapped pork loin

(food styling/lisa falso; Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
April 15, 2009

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Serves 4

If you can cut a piece of string, you won't have a problem putting this pork loin together. The fresh tasting boneless meat is wrapped in Italian pancetta (cured pork that's salted and spiced, rather than smoky like bacon). As the meat roasts, the pancetta bastes it with salty, peppery drippings; fresh herbs add their aromatics, and the loin turns into a flavorful, juicy dish. Add fennel and fingerling potatoes to the edges of the meat so it's an elegant meal in one pan.

Olive oil (for the pan)
8 slices pancetta (each 1/8 inches thick)
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 boneless pork loin (about 2 pounds)
1 large bulb fresh fennel, trimmed, cored, and quartered
1 pound fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Brush a roasting pan with olive oil; set aside. Cut 3 pieces of twine (about 16 inches each). Lay them on a cutting board, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart.

2. Set 4 pieces of the pancetta, slightly overlapping, on the string to form a square. Set 1 sprig of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 sprig rosemary on the pancetta.

3. Lightly season the pork with pepper. Place it fat side up on the herbs. Place remaining herbs on the loin. Add the remaining 4 slices pancetta, slightly overlapping, so they cover the loin.

4. Tie the twine around the pork loin to hold the pancetta and herbs in place. Transfer the loin to the roasting pan.

5. In a bowl toss the fennel and fingerlings with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set them around the pork.

6. Roast the pork for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the pork registers 140 degrees (the pork will be slightly rosy; cook 10 minutes longer for well-done meat).

7. Tent the pork with foil and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes. Use scissors to snip the twine. Carve the pork into thick slices and serve with the fennel and potatoes.

Lisa Falso