September 23, 2011
Welcome back to the kitchen. Friends, while I am an absolute fan of
summer, I realized recently that I have also been eagerly awaiting the change of seasons. These crisp nights begin
to bring the smell of wood smoke, heavier blankets come out of storage, and palates begin to change as well.
/> It is finally cool enough in the house to consider using the oven again. And autumn always
brings out the most delicious, earthy comfort food cravings. But we are still at the tail end of the harvest,
which means we’ve got plenty of great local ingredients to incorporate.
I’ve been toying with the idea of a succulent pork roast balanced with the sweet, seasonal flavors of great
local apples. I like finding recipes that sound complicated, look amazing, taste incredible, but are secretly
fairly simple. Today’s recipe takes a little bit of knife skills and preparation, but once you pull it out
of the oven I think you will agree that this is a real winner.
I’m thinking of an
apple stuffed pork loin with sage and a bacon maple glaze. Mmmm! At least for you meat eaters out there, I think
just the mention of some smoky bacon and maple glaze is enough to get your mouths watering. Now imagine that as
just the icing on a beautifully rolled pork loin filled with sweet apple and sage stuffing. Oh yeah, this one is a
Now, as I mentioned, this recipe does require a little bit of knife skill, because
we are going to roll-cut our pork roast. Some recipes call for you to just butterfly it, which means just to cut
it in half the long way and leave a hinge, folding it open like a book. But roll-cutting is even more elegant, and
it allows us to get more stuffing in for a pro-style stuffed loin, and we can get a nice thin cut.
/> For this recipe we want to use a nice large pork loin roast, around 3 pounds. The idea with
roll cutting a roast is to have a really nice sharp knife. Place the roast on a cutting board so that one end is
facing you. Begin cutting along the length of the roast, trying to get the meat about 1 inch thick or less,
parallel to the cutting board. With each slice, unroll the roast like a roll of paper towels. You should end up
with a relatively flat piece of pork, and we will spread our apple sage stuffing evenly all over that flat surface
before rolling the meat back up like a roll cake and tying it with butchers twine.
recognize that the roll cut is a bit of an advanced technique, and make take a little patience or practice, but I
promise it is really not all that hard. And in truth, this recipe is fairly forgiving, so if you don’t end
up with a perfectly level unrolled loin, don’t worry. Just stuff it and tie it off and toss it in the oven.
It will still be delicious. Oh, but don’t forget to sanitize your cutting board with some apple cider
vinegar after cutting raw meat on it.
Of course you could stuff this roast with anything
that tickles your tongue’s fancy. Apricot cornbread stuffing is awesome, you could be really naughty and do
a spicy sausage stuffing inside your pork, or even a tropical pineapple stuffing. But as I said, I love the way
sweet apples and savory meats interact, and there are some great local varieties coming into season. I recommend
asking your farmer what variety they recommend, because some are more suited to cooking than others.
/> I like sweet-tart apples that will hold up fairly well to the cooking process and not just
turn to mush. Of course, any local apple will probably do pretty well, but I recommend Cortland, granny smith, or
maybe Winesap for this recipe. Avoid very mild apple varieties, because we want that appleiness to come through
along with the pork.
So for this apple stuffed pork loin with sage and bacon, we’ll
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion,
• 1 celery stalk, chopped fine
• 2 local sweet-
tart baking apples, peeled, cored and chopped fairly small
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
and chopped fine
• 8-12 fresh sage leaves. Roughly chop half of them, and reserve the
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• A pinch of fresh
or dried thyme leaves
• 2 cups thick-cut white bread cubes, crusts removed (stale
bread is perfect for this recipe)
• 1 egg, beaten
• Salt and fresh ground black pepper
/>• 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed (veggie broth is fine too, and apple
cider would be a very tasty substitute)
• About 8 slices of bacon, cut in half
/>• 1 (3-5 pound) boneless center cut pork loin roast, roll cut to about 1/2 to 1
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup (brown sugar would be fine too)
/> Let’s start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large
skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, apples, garlic, thyme leaves,
and the chopped sage. Sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and
gently stir in the bread chunks, beaten egg, butter and salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth gradually until
everything is moistened. It doesn’t need top be soaking wet, but you do want the bread chunks to start to
break down a bit. Then remove the stuffing from the heat.
Let the stuffing mixture cool
almost to room temperature before putting it in the pork loin. Spoon the stuffing across the whole surface of the
cut side of the pork, spreading evenly. Don’t quite spread it all the way to the edges, or it will squeeze
out when you roll it. You may end up with a bit more stuffing than you need, so don’t try to fit more on
there than is possible.
Roll the pork over the stuffing, jelly roll style, ending with the
seam side down. You want to roll firmly, but again not so hard that the stuffing squeezes out. Rub the top of the
loin roll with a bit more pepper, some fresh rosemary, and lay on the rest of the fresh sage leaves. Drizzle on
just a little bit of the maple syrup in a line down the top of the roast. Next, drape the half-strips of bacon
sideways along the entire length of the roast; tucking the bacon underneath if it reaches all the way (mine only
goes about halfway down, which is fine. Drizzle on the rest of the maple syrup or brown sugar over the bacon.
/> The final step is also a little tricky until you get the hang of it, but it is a pro-step.
Tightly tie the pork roast up with butcher's twine, making loops about every inch or so and sliding them under
the roast until it is all bound up nicely. Place the loin in a roasting pan. I like to surround it with veggies
like lightly oiled and seasoned chopped carrots, onions, and red potatoes. This way we can have a side dish
cooking right along with the main course. Roast the pork in a preheated oven for about 90 minutes or until an
instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. Remove from the oven and let it
rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing, which will help it all hold together.
When you are
ready to serve it, slice the apple stuffed pork roast into 1-inch thick slices. You will see how beautifully the
apple stuffing looks spiraled into the roast. Oh, and cut the butchers twine off before slicing, duh! You may find
it easiest to make your slices in between the bacon strips, but I actually like thinner pieces than that. Garnish
the platter of stuffed pork roll with more fresh apples and herbs, and serve with roasted veggies and potatoes and
a green salad.
Yum! Apple, roast pork, sage and other fresh herbs, bacon, and maple syrup.
This is pretty heavenly in my book, and a great way to welcome in the fall. I’d love to hear your favorite
autumnal recipes, and some creative uses for the apple harvest. Send me any questions or comments to
Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.