While-you-work Pork Roast

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When it comes to cooking, it’s safe to say that Mom grew me up with a certain dose of anxiety. Like, guests for dinner? Minimum advice time is 3 days. Or, lentils (or chick-peas, or beans) must be left in water for 12 hours before cooking. Ragout (meat sauce, for you non-italians) will have to simmer for 4 hours; you will cook no less than 5 courses; and so on and so forth.

You see, cooking, cleaning and tidying up were the fundamentals of competitive housewifeship, the game our Italian women played against the preceding female generation. Of course it was far from being a fair game, because the younger woman invariably had to keep up with both her mother and her mother-in-law. (and you have seen all those Woody Allen movies, so you know what I mean).

Luckily, I have the advantage of my mother: there is no such thing as competitive housemanship and times have changed. These days, two-working-parents families like ours simply do not have the luxury of a full-time house figure. Which means that making ragout like momma did would likely take thee days, during which we’d only eat canned stuff.

If rules don’t work, change them. I practice what I call guerrilla cooking, turning the concept of recipe on its head: I cook what I have, in the time I have. This of course needs smart supply protocols but, hey, you’re not born with an analytical mind in vain, no?

Enough blabbering already. Let’s come to the story.

The other day I had this lovely slab of pork tenderloin to roast the way Simona likes it, but I was a little busy at work. No way I could find the time to cook it the traditional way, so I didn’t. Enter the While-you-work roast!

Apron time: 15 minutes. Apron-to-dish time: 2 hours 15 minutes. Yes, the roast will cook itself while you do other stuff.

Here’s what you need for appx. 6 servings:

Thyme, marjoram, garlic, pistachios. Keep it simple!
Thyme, marjoram, garlic, pistachios. Keep it simple!
  • 700g of pork tenderloin
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 50g unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
  • a handful of fresh thyme or 1 tablespoonful of dry thyme
  • a handful of fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoonful of dry marjoram
  • 20 grains of black pepper
  • 1 stock cube
  • salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Turn the oven on, set at 200°C.

Peel the cloves of garlic and toss in a mixer with the pistachios, the herbs, the black pepper and half of the stock cube..

Add about half a glass of extra virgin olive oil and mix until you get an even paste.

meat and a bowl of herb mince on a cutting tray
Pierce the meat and fill the holes with the herb mince

Pierce the meat and dig 6 to 8 vertical holes in the tenderloin; your index finger should fit comfortably inside them (do not come out of the other side).

a raised steam tray in a clay pot
You’ll want to cook the meat in a raised steam tray

Put the meat inside a sligthly raised steam tray (so the meat doesn’t touch the pot and can cook unattended). Then put the stam tray in a pot that will go in the oven (no plastic handles!). I use a clay pot.

Raw pork tenderloin in a pot, covered with herb and garlic mince
Use the rest of the herb mince to cover the meat

Fill the holes with the mince herbs you just prepared (that’s why they must be holes, not tunnels). Use the rest of the paste to cover the meat with a thick layer.

a capped pot ready to go into the oven
Cap the pot and it’s oven ready!

Add 300ml of water, toss the rest of the stock cube in the water and put, capped, into the oven. Go do something else for 2 hours, then serve.

a serving of herb pork tenderloin in a dish
While-you-work roast is ready.

That’s all there is to it. The meat will be moist, tender, and rich in flavor (almost a miracle for pork tenderloin). It will not stick or burn, and you will have enough sauce left in the pot to wet the slices and yes, you do eat the browned layer on top, it’s delicious.

Share and enjoy.


  1. What a lovely site..! I have to “translate” the measurements, but I WILL try this. I like the personal stories of your heritage that you include as weel..so nice to “meet you”. I’ll check in again.
    Thank you,
    Christine, The Greening Spirit

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