A Fall-inspired recipe
The Frugal Foodie promises to save you some money in the kitchen while giving you a laugh or two at the same time!
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Ouch! If that was a song, it would be the soundtrack of this week. First I put my hand down on a pan I didn’t know was just recently heated. Then I almost sliced off my index finger due to a knife I had just commented about: “Time to sharpen this one as it’s a bit dull and a safety hazard.” So, as a public safety announcement to my readers: Sharpen your knives regularly! Do it yourself sharpening is not a difficult task and I’ll include that in an upcoming edition of The Frugal Foodie.
Most of my recipes are inspired by life situations or are interpretations of classics or just well-known recipes. When they are interpretations, I try to give full credit as much as possible to the original creator.
My pork loin stuffed with dried fruits is inspired by a Pork and Prunes dish (seriously, this is not a Monty Python joke) that I had while in Siena celebrating my husband’s birthday 20 years ago. I ordered it because of its name, which sounds so melodious in Italian, and just loved the taste. I’ve always loved bread stuffing and at Thanksgiving time at Julia’s, we offered a fruit and nut bread stuffing that sold ahead of classic herb stuffing. And port? It’s one of the world’s great civilizers served on a chilly evening with a fabulous stilton and some walnuts.
I used a center cut pork loin, instead of the tenderloin, which isn’t on sale this week. You can use turkey tenderloin or a deboned turkey breast and make a roulade. For a richer and more expensive version, venison loin pairs wonderfully with the sweet and savory stuffing and is complimented by the port reduction.
Also, dried cranberries, prunes, golden raisins, and currants can be substituted for the apricots or cherries or added to the stuffing mix.
Dried Cherry, Apricot and Walnut stuffed Pork Loin with port reduction
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes
1 center cut pork loin weighing 1 ½ pounds, trimmed of fat and butterflied
4 oz. dried cherries
4 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. walnuts (pecans may be used, too)
2 cups of herb bread stuffing
One small onion
1 cup butter (4 ounces for the stuffing; 4 ounces for the port reduction)
Optional: Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme (no parsley – this isn’t a song)
Water as needed for stuffing
2 ½ cups good port
Kosher salt and fresh pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Trim pork loin of fat. Cut loin sidewise like you would for a large loaf of Italian bread. Open to lay flat and use a meat mallet to pound loin to equal thickness. Season loin with salt and pepper.
2. Dice apricots and cherries. Soak with ½ cup of port. Add walnuts. Let mix soak while preparing bread stuffing.
3. Dice onion.
4. In heavy bottom sauté pan, melt butter on high. When butter is hot, add onion and turn heat down to medium. Add optional fresh herbs and sweat onion until soft and translucent.
5. Mix onion with dry bread stuffing. Stir in dried fruit mix and add enough water for a soft bread stuffing. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed.
6. Spread stuffing mix over seasoned pork loin. Don’t spread too thick as the stuffing will “ooze” out of the meat when closed. You’ll have more stuffing than you need, which you can always put in a Pyrex pie dish and bake (everyone loves extra stuffing with this recipe) or freeze for another use.
7. Close pork loin careful. Tie the loin with butcher’s twine and if any stuffing pops out, use a wooden spoon and your hands to put it back in. Aluminum foil on the ends helps keep the stuffing together.
8. In a heavy pan, sear the stuffed loin on all sides. When brown, transfer loin and the pan juices to a Pyrex roasting pan. Add some water to the pan – maybe a ½ cup – and place pan in oven for 45 minutes. Pork loin is done at 145 degrees. Let loin cool for 20 minutes before cutting.
9. Make Port reduction: Melt remaining butter in heavy sauté pan. Add pan juices and 2 cups of port. Turn heat up to high and consistently stir mix. When mix reaches the consistency of syrup, take off heat. Don’t overcook the reduction as it will eventually separate and taste burnt, too. Keep reduction warm until ready to serve over sliced pork loin. Serve with rosemary-roasted potatoes and sautéed baby spinach.
Always serve with love and friendship!