Various types of meat or vegetables rolled around a stuffing are called involtini. Beef involtini are often slowly cooked in a tomato sauce, while involtini made from grilled eggplant slices are stuffed with a soft cheese and quickly baked. This recipe for citrus flavored pork involtini has a stuffing of citrus flavored breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts, and can be baked or grilled. I have also used this stuffing with chicken breast, which is not traditional, but still tastes pretty good.
Coating the outside of meats or fish with flavored breadcrumbs before grilling or baking is a method frequently found in Sicilian cooking, and is used in our involtini recipe. The stuffed involtini are first coated with olive oil, then rolled in breadcrumbs – the crumbs seal in the juices of the lean meat so that it remains tender. Just be careful not to burn the crumbs if you grill the involtini.
Though this recipe comes from Sicily, it could be at home in many regions of Italy, even land-bound Umbria, as the ingredients are quite common, except for the tarocco orange. Since these are only found for a couple of months in Sicily, you can use another type of orange with a ½ tsp of lemon juice to simulate the sharper taste of the tarocco. The sweet touch of raisins and crunch of pine nuts is very typical of Sicilian cuisine, while the use of fresh bay leaves adds the aromatic touch found in dishes all over Italy- old dried bay leaves are like bitter sawdust in comparison.
Since these involtini are sauce-less, they go well with a “wet” side dish. During our 1-day cooking class in Sicily, we paired the involtini with a very simple dish of braised potatoes. Here are the recipes – let me know how these turn out for you.