I’ve noticed something this past week.
The crisp 67, or so, degree air hit me and I could smell changing the seasons. I looked around and noticed a few crunchy brown leaves littered the grass. At 1pm the sun was already sagging low in the sky. It’s autumn, and that means its time to change gears.
While the coals on the grill will smolder white hot all through football season the type of food we here in the temperate zone like to enjoy will change. No longer do we look for fresh lite flavors. Our primal instincts kick in and tell us to hunker down for the coming cold and this means heavy hearty meals.
This also cues us to get ready for the holiday season where feasting is the name of the game. As a newly enlightened man of the kitchen this might prompt you to take a big step forward and attempt to test your skills on a large group, maybe impress some people like the parents of the girl you dig or your fam.
As I stated before in The Archetypal Dinner Date, you dont want to cook a meal for others that you’ve never cooked before yourself, so to that end I figured I’d throw a good fall dish at you now so you can get comfortable with it for when you need it in a couple months.
**Note: I’m being very general with the recipe so its easily adjusted to fit the size loin you need/find. Be smart about what you use to measure for the stuffing, but remember its better to have a little left over then to run short.
- A full or half sheet pan
- A roasting rack (use 2 of them if you’re going to be using a full sheet tray)
- A large skillet or saucepan
- A small mixing bowl
- A medium sized mixing bowl
- Butchers Twine
- A pork loin, I prefer to use a full sized pork loin (sometimes called a canadian back) with the fat layer still in tact, versus the smaller center cut loins. Large loins (heh) are easier to stuff (heh) because there’s more to work with (heh)
- 1 part dried cranberries
- 1 part sherry or cognac
- 1 part French’s fried onions, smashed up (you can use a food processor, I just put it in a bag and beat the shit out of it with my hands)
- 1 part panko bread crumbs
- 1 part chopped pecans
- 1 part butter
- 2 parts white onion, diced very small
- 2 parts celery, diced very small
- 2 parts green apple, diced very small
- Beaten egg, as needed
- Rubbed sage, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
**I highly recommend you brine the pork loin for 6-24 hours before doing anything
- Start by putting your dried cranberries into the small mixing bowl and dumping the sherry/cognac over top. This process is called “reconstituting”
- Next get your skillet hot and toss in your pecans, dry by themselves. Toss or stir every 30 seconds or so until they get a little dark and the kitchen smells kind of nutty.
- Once the nuts are toasted, dump them into the larger mixing bowl and add the butter to the skillet.
- Once the butter is halfway melted add in your celery, onions, and apples and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. This process is known as sweating. It’s basically sautéing, but you do not want to brown what your cooking
- While that cooks add your fried onions, panko bread crumbs, and cranberries to the mixing bowl with the pecans. Make sure to drain the booze off of the cranberries. Throw it out or save it, just dont add it to the stuffing mix.
- Once the apple, celery, and onion is cooked down spread it out on your sheet tray to cool off.
- Once its cooled a bit scoop it up with your hands and add it into the bowl with the rest of the stuffing mixture. Dont dump it in, make sure you scoop it up. The idea is to leave the liquid that cooked out behind so you dont end up with a soggy drippy stuffing. Dump out that liquid and clean the sheet tray.
- Add in you beaten egg. Now, you’re gonna ask “how much egg” and I’m gonna say “enough” and that’s the best answer you’re getting. Its roughly going to be one egg for every cup of bread crumbs, but the idea here is to “feel” it out. If you think its to much egg, it is.
- Season the stuffing with the rubbed sage, black pepper, and salt. If you brined the pork loins go easy on the salt. If you did not brine the loins then make the stuffing a little on the salty side. Be careful with the sage as well, its a very strong flavor that can be very overpowering if you add to much. Make sure you taste the stuffing “but there’s raw egg!” dont be a bitch, taste the damn food.
- This is where I should tell you how to fillet the pork loin for stuffing as a roulade, but I forgot to take pictures of this process, and trying to accurately describe it in words would be long and ineffective. So I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of ExpertVillage
- Now that you have your filleted pork loin and your completed stuffing we are going to take a photo journey down a road named “stuffing and tying a pork loin roast”
Cook your loins (heh) at 350F (325F if you’re using a convection oven) until cooked all the way through (internal temp of 165F) Make sure not to over cook them. The brining will help retain the juiciness of the meat, but if you take the loins over 210 they will dry out.
This stuffed pork loin makes a great holiday dish and is a wonderful change from the standard turkey and ham. Try it out now and get a feel for it and own your next dinner party like a BOSS.