November, December, and the first of January are holiday food months. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, we ate plenty of turkey and ham. January brought out the pot roasts, beef stews, and chowders. Now it is February. What is February’s comfort food? February is icy cold days with Valentine’s Day and President’s Day thrown in to keep us from hibernating. There is a lot of chocolate and sugar-coating that comes with February, so a solid meal to balance all the sweetness is necessary. Let me introduce you to February’s main dish–The Dried-Fruit Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin. February is about falling in love, and you will fall in love with this dish.
Here is a collection of the dried fruit I have in my pantry. (Sorry about all the sale tags and prices, but here at My Whit’s End, I have to shop that way. If you don’t, just ignore the sale stickers.) Whenever I see dried fruit on sale, by mind immediately jumps to this recipe, and I buy it. Other than snipping the prunes into pieces, the dried fruit doesn’t really need to be chopped.
Now would also be a good time to pre-heat your oven to the usual 350 degrees.
I love fresh ginger. However, since I live with eaters that have simple pallets, often the fresh ginger I buy isn’t “fresh” by the time I finally get to use it. I have started buying dried ginger. The dried ginger I found was coated in sugar, which for me is never a problem. Remember, I’m the wonderfully-refined-tastes-divine Confectioner Craver.
Chop up the ginger into small pieces. Snip the prunes with some kitchen scissors, and add all the dried fruit into a bowl. I use a little over 2 cups for a 4-5 pound roast. One cup is probably fine if that is all you have. Again, I have used all different combinations of dried fruits, and haven’t yet found one that isn’t delicious in this recipe.
I don’t have a photograph of this step, but you need to mince up 3 cloves of garlic. Add the garlic to the dried fruit and chopped ginger mixture.
Pour in the moe-lasses. Mmmmmm! I love this flavour. Add 1/2 a cup to the dried fruit mixture. If you have any wine in the house, add a cup or two. I use white wine, but the original recipe that I tweaked calls for Madeira wine.
Madeira wine is a wine that actually gets a sauna treatment. Okay, they call it something else, but Madeira wine gets heated–up to about 60 degrees to simulate a voyage on an old sailing ship headed to the tropics. Madeira is considered a red wine. Here is a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeira_wine
Sage gives this Fruit-Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin an earthy and comforting taste. To me, sage always reminds me of fire side flavours. Add one teaspoon, or just pinch some into the mixture. Add some Kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper (a couple of cranks or 1/4 teaspoon) to the mixture.
PLEASE, OH PLEASE BE CAREFUL IN THIS STEP! We are now ready to stuff our pork loin. However, unlike a turkey that comes with a handy, dandy, stuffing cavity, in a pork loin, you have to make your own cavity. You need to cut a hole/slit all the way down the center of the 4 – 5 pound pork loin. I start a cut with a smaller knife on each end. Then I get a really long serrated knife and carefully cut an opening all the way down.
Using a handle of a wooden spoon, press the spoon handle down into the pork loin. This opens up the cut a bit more.
We can now start stuffing. Get a spoonful of your molasses-dried fruit mixture, and still using the handle of the wooden spoon, poke in some of the dried fruit mixture. If one side gets full, just turn the pork loin over and start poking in the fruit mixture on the other side. It might not all fit, but the more that fits in the better the pork loin tastes.
You can rub the Fruit-Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin with softened butter. I just drizzle on some olive oil. The olive oil adds flavour, but it also insures that the pork loin will turn a crusty golden brown–sealing in the moisture and flavour.
Take a few more pinches of sage (about two more teaspoons) and rub/pat it into the top of the pork loin.
Cook the Roasted Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin uncovered in the pre-heated oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Roughly 20 minutes per pound. This recipe is delicious moist, but it is also very forgiving if you leave it in a little too long.
The gravy this pork loin makes is dark and delicious. The Roasted Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin can be accompanied with high-piled, butter topped, mashed potatoes. I also serve it with wild rice.
The original recipe was inspired by a recipe in this wonderful cook book. My copy is very well used and even a little crusty on some pages. It has too many wonderful recipes for me to list my favorites.
I also realized just this summer that one of the authors (chefs) has a bed and breakfast in a quaint little Michigan town (Saugatuck) right on Lake Michigan. If anybody wants to invite me to join them, I will make sure that my datebook is empty to accompany you. SIGH! I would love to eat Julee Rosso’s cooking for a weekend. !!! And even if I am not your first choice as a guest to accompany you, wouldn’t this bed and breakfast make a wonderful Valentines Day get-away? So what if they are booked on Valentine’s day, just reserve a night later on in the month. Good things are worth waiting for.
Here is the link to Wickwood Inn. But I am warning you fairly. You can’t visit the site without falling in love. But isn’t that what February is all about? http://wickwoodinn.com/
Jum, jum. (Which in Eloise translates, “Please miss me a little while I am gone, but other than that have a great day.)
P.S. If you would like to order the cookbook, click on the blue line. It will take you to Amazon.
The Silver Palate Cookbook