Recipe Courtesy Anne Yarymowich, Agora Restaurant, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. In Catalan cooking, picada is traditionally a pounded paste of nuts, crisp breadcrumbs and aromatics used to thicken and enrich stews and sauces. This is a coarser version, with less oil, used as a stuffing for pork roast and figs. Serve the stuffed pork roast or figs with a simple salad of watercress (or try mâche or baby arugula), shavings of Manchego cheese and toasted hazelnuts. Dress the salad with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and/or sherry vinegar to taste.
Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan over medium-low heat. Test the temperature with the edge of the bread (it should barely sizzle on contact). Place the bread in the pan and reduce heat. Fry the bread slices until it is deep golden in colour, about 2 to 3 minutes, or until firm to touch. The bread may require further drying in a medium oven if chewy or doughy in spots.
Break the bread into coarse chunks.
Place bread chunks nuts and remaining ingredients in food processor, and pulse until all is the consistency of course bread crumbs. (Use this coarser picada for the figs.)
To achieve a finer more traditional paste, continue to puree, while drizzling in additional extra virgin olive oil. (Use the finer paste for the pork.)
If purchasing pork rib roast with chine on, have the butcher crack through the chine bone between each rib
Place the roast on a board with the ribs pointing up.
With a sharp boning knife, rest the tip of your knife flat against the curved rack of the bones. Make a series of smooth cuts between the loin and bones until you reach the “elbow” of each rib bone. Leave the loin attached to the bone, about 1-inch from the bottom of the roast so that you can open and close the roast like a book.
Season the whole roast including the rack of bones liberally inside and out with salt. Smear the meat that has been cut away from the bone with a generous layer of the picada paste, about ¼-inch thick. Close the loin back up and truss the roast with butcher’s twine, looping and knotting the twine between each rib.
Cover loosely and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours. Remove the roast from refrigerator about 3 hours before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Stand the roast in a shallow roasting pan not much larger than the meat. Place in the center of the oven. For a juicy roast that is cooked through, but with a faintly rosy cast, roast to 135 degrees F. internal temperature. Start checking the internal temperature of the roast after 45 minutes of cooking time. Allow between 1 and 1 ½ hours for a 4-pound roast. Set the roast on a platter, tent loosely with foil. Let rest in a warm spot, about 20 minutes. Serve.
Note: like any roast, the internal temperature will continue to cook after it has been removed from the oven and rests, but the rack of bones retains heat particularly well, so the temperature of the pork roast should climb to about 160 degrees F. The meat will be cooked through but still moist.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut a cross into the top of each fig, quartering the fig almost to the base, but leaving the base in tact.
Stuff about 1 tsp. of the coarse picada into the cavity created by the cut. Set on a bake sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Salt sparingly with kosher salt or fleur de sel.
Roast for 5 to 8 minutes, or until figs are soft, oozing and opening up.