Roasted Pork Loin stuffed with dried fruits, sage and pistachios
Layering flavors is one of a chef’s main techniques for adding complexity to a dish.
This holiday season, we’re applying that technique to roast stuffed pork loin, which takes to layering exceptionally well.
Pork loin is lean and therefore can dry out easily, so it does best when stuffed with dried fruits that have been soaked overnight in apple juice or, for a more sublime addition, bourbon, rum or brandy.
Also, glazing a pork loin with a little honey or brown sugar and bourbon is a good way to maintain moisture while layering on more flavors yet.
For Stuffing and Searing the Roast
½ cup dried prunes
½ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried cherries
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
¼ cup pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch cayenne
½ cup bourbon, rum, brandy or apple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4-lb. piece of boneless pork loin, with some fat attached
3 tablespoons canola oil
For the rub
¼ cup rubbed dry sage
¼ cup chili powder
1 pinch cayenne or chipotle powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
For the pan sauce
1 cup mirepoix (¼ cup diced carrot,
¼ cup diced celery, ½ cup diced onion)*
2 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine (ideally the wine that will be served with the dish)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup reduced veal stock**
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Roquefort cheese (optional)
*Mirepoix: This is the name in classical cuisine for a combination of diced onions, celery and carrots.
**Avoid using store-bought canned stock or bouillon. Either purchase good-quality fresh or frozen veal stock, or make stock using browned bones of chicken, veal, or pork.
Deglaze: To use liquid to loosen the browned bits of protein crusted on the surface of a pan after cooking meats in the pan. This recoups the flavor and puts it back into the sauce.
- The night before, combine the prunes, apricots, cherries, sage leaves, pistachios, salt, pepper and cayenne in a bowl with the bourbon (or rum, brandy or apple juice). Keep refrigerated overnight.
- The next day, drain the fruit of any residual liquid.
- Combine the liquid with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Set aside to use later to glaze the meat. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- With a long, thin, sharp slicing knife, make a cavity lengthwise through the center of the pork loin. Do not butterfly it, or remove any of the interior meat. Place the stuffing in the cavity and, with the knife, push it through to the other end of the loin.
- Using butcher’s twine, tie the pork loin with a few loops to secure the stuffing in the loin. Combine all spice rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the surface of the meat liberally with the rub.
- Heat canola oil in an ovenproof pan until very hot. Sear the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Pour off the cooking fat from the pan, but preserve any crusty bits that are on the surface of the pan.
- Toss the mirepoix into the pan with a pinch of salt and the sliced garlic over low heat; stir the mirepoix with a wooden spoon. The moisture from the mirepoix will deglaze (see tip) the crusty bits from the pan and flavor the sauce. Roast pork loin at 325 degrees on top of mirepoix until it reaches an internal temperature of 115 to 120 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Brush with the bourbon and sugar glaze, then continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135 to 140 degrees. Remove from oven and pan and let rest for 10 minutes (internal temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees after it’s removed from the oven.) Keep loosely covered.
- Place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the white wine and cider vinegar to the mirepoix mixture, and stir frequently while reducing the wine until it is practically evaporated. Add the veal stock, mustard and blue cheese.
Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, and then pass the sauce through a strainer. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce. Slice the loin and serve the sauce on the side. Pommes Anna and roasted fall vegetables are nice accompaniments to this festive dinner.