I can imagine few better meals than taking a fresh cut of meat, filling it with all the stuff you love, then baking it in the oven in a breadcrumb coating. When one finally takes these protein bags out of the oven, all of which are thick from the delicious juicy stuff they can hardly contain within, cuts them in half, and sees the slow-flowing, steaming mixture of cheese, spices and mushrooms (or anything you could think of filling into it) seeping out from between the two layers of meat, releasing mouth-watering smells, one cannot withhold the smile of satisfaction that breaks out on his/her face. It is about time I share such a recipe on this blog.
Ingredients for 2:
- 0.5 kg boneless pork loin
- 100g mild cheddar or similar
- 4 medium-sized white mushrooms
- cream cheese (optional)
- 2 eggs
- white flour
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Similar filled meat cutlets can be made with pork, chicken, turkey alike, but the heartiest and tastiest version is made with pork. I used the same beautiful boneless pork loins I found in the local supermarket back when I was shopping for the whiskey-flavoured creamy pork – there is hardly any better pork cuts that is easier to work with, especially for this recipe. I bought a piece which was close to 500 grams. Apart from the ingredients for the filling, I also bought some fresh vegetables for side.
I first sliced the pork loin into slices no thicker than 2 cm. If you can manage you can go down to 1.5 cm. You will probably need a very sharp knife that runs through the fibers like it was butter.
Next, I gave the slices a good beating with a mallet. This process flattens the meat out to a larger size as well as breaks down the fibers, making it really tender. All you need to watch is not to overdo it and tear a hole in your slices.
When I finished with the pounding I piled the meat slices on a place, covered and put them aside. No salting or other spice is necessary as long as you make the filling salty enough. In the end the spices will transfer into the meat fiber.
I washed the mushrooms and cut them into thin slices, then I chopped the slices to tiny pieces. I also cleaned and chopped 1/4 of a large onion.
I put on a large pan and heated some olive oil in it, then I tossed in the onion chops and roughly fried them with some salt. When it started to soften I added the mushroom, 1/4 tbsp freshly ground black pepper (freshly ground is always the best) and more salt, to taste. I covered the pan with a lid and steamed the mushrooms on medium heat for no more than 5 minutes. By this time they got fairly soft and released a considerable amount of liquid. I continued without the lid on medium heat until the mushrooms were completely soft and most of the liquid evaporated and finalised the spicing by tasting.
Then the mushroom and onion filling was ready, I laid out the pork slices one by one and spooned plenty in the middle of each slice. A large pile of grated cheese went on top of that, and the slice was ready for wrapping. Optionally you can mix in some creamed cheese. I myself didn’t, I simply used more cheddar instead. I folded on side of the meat on the other, wrapping the filling in-between and fixed the edges with toothpicks. For this purpose you can use toothpicks, very large needles, specialised meat needles of very small and very thin skewers. Either way, make sure you remove them all after baking.
When all the pork loin slices were wrapped it was time to coat them in a breadcrumb crust. In three separate deep plates I laid out white flour, two eggs, very thoroughly beaten up with a whisk and in the third plate, the breadcrumbs. I took each bag of meat and turned them a couple of times in the flour until each side picked up plenty, then rolled them in the egg and finally the breadcrumbs until they had a thick, consistent crust. When it was necessary I did the egg and breadcrumb stage twice.
There are two ways to cook this meal – frying in deep oil of baking. Both yield delicious results but baking is much healthier option the and the end result is perhaps even better tasting due the the fact that the taste of the meat, cheese, mushroom and spices are not overshadowed by the oily, slightly burned taste. Also, it not accidentally over-baked, the meat and the filling remains every bit as juicy as in the case of deep frying. So I choose baking.
When all the bags were done I put them in a baking pan preciously coated with a thin layer of butter and dripped olive oil on the top of until most of the breadcrumb coating were a darker oily colour. The point of this to prevent drying in the baking process. As long as most of the crust is oily it’s fine – don’t worry it will spread out to the still dry parts. I put the pan in the preheated oven and baked at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately 25 minutes, turning the cutlets once at half time.
By the end of the process a small amount of the cheesy filling was seeping out from the sides of some of the cutlets, releasing mind-blowing smells. I took them out of the oven and served them laid on lettuce and with cut fresh vegetables – cucumber, tomato and rocket, and a small amount of boiled brown rice.
It was absolutely irresistible. The meat was tender and with the tasty, juicy filling it was so unbeliveably filling that we had to take a long, quiet break after dinner. Make yourself free at least for a couple of hours if you are planning to make this dish!
I love cold, harsh winters. After a three-month Indonesian trip I’m back in Kiev again, and we have just had an amazing (and sadly, short) cold period with temperatures down to -14 degrees Celsius and almost constant, light snowfall. All water bodies were frozen over and people were skating on the lakes and even on the river Dnieper. Let me salute to real winter weather with these two songs from Before the Dawn, First Snow and Winter Within, two consecutive tracks from their Deatstar Rising album.