Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something Wonderful This Way Comes: Herb and Mustard Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with English Style Crispy Roast Potatoes

I grew up eating turkey for Thanksgiving and just as often as not, turkey for Christmas. So, multiply my years on this earth times two and you have about 10,000 turkeys that I have eaten over my lifetime. This doesn’t even take into account all of the sliced deli turkey for turkey sandwiches, hot turkey on toast and turkey chef salads I’ve eaten. No wonder I’m sick to death of turkey.

Now that I’m all grown up and running the holiday show around here, I decided to break with tradition and cook something totally different this last Thanksgiving. Well, I have to be honest and say that I did have a safety net since we were having lunch with our neighbors and I knew that she would be baking a turkey (that turned out to be a work of art by the way). Taking this into account, I felt free to get really creative.

Since I was saving ham for Christmas and goose was just taking it too far, I decided to prepare a pork loin. I really wanted this to be a kicked up, tricked out pork loin so I searched the internet high and low for a recipe that would make it something really special. After much perusal, I decided on a Dijon mustard and herb stuffing. I added my own touches by wrapping it in bacon, browning it in a skillet and baking it in hard cider. Whoa! The result was one of the best meat dishes I have ever eaten, and need I remind you that I have eaten 10,000 turkeys (give or take).

When I made this the first time I had a three and a half pound loin that fed all four of us with enough leftovers to send my daughter home with some and a couple of sandwiches for me and Mr. H. The one shown here is right at a pound and a half which I found to be just the right size for a meal for four.

Herb and Mustard Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

1- 1/2 pound pork loin

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 – 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ teaspoon rubbed sage)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

4 – 5 slices thin hickory smoked bacon

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 cup hard cider

Butterfly pork loin as shown; lay it flat (cut side up) on a clean dry surface. Spread garlic all over the loin. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the garlic. Smear the mustard over the top with the back of a spoon; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme,chives and tarragon. Sprinkle the herb mixture over the mustard. Roll the loin up as shown.

Starting at one end of the stuffed loin, wrap a piece of the bacon around to secure it, being sure to tuck the loose end of the bacon under itself to hold it in place. Stretching the bacon slightly as you wrap, overlap bacon slices at the ends securing them with a toothpick. This process not only flavors the bacon but it also holds it together so it should be securely wrapped.

Wrap the prepared loin in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the oil into a medium size skillet over medium high heat. Brown the bacon wrapped loin on all sides until it is golden brown.

Place the browned loin in a baking dish that is not too much bigger than the loin itself. Pour the cider over the top. Cover with foil and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for approximately 15 minutes before carving and serving.

To get started you'll need to butterfly the loin.  First you press the meat firmly with the palm of your hand to stablilize it.  With a very sharp knife make a slice into the loin at 1/3 of the thickness on the bottom.  Carefully follow the 1/3 thickness all the way to the opposite end of the loin, rolling the meat as you go, until have a flat piece of meat.

Season the meat well with salt and pepper before spreading it with the mustard and the herbs.

Starting at either end, roll the meat up cigar fashion.

Wrap the loin with slices of bacon, securing them at the end with toothpicks.  Wrap the loin in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible.

Remove the loin from the plastic and brown on all sideds in a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat.  Place the loin in a baking dish before adding the cider, covering and baking for one hour.

After baking, keep the meat covered and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing in into 1/2 - 1" slices.

To make this this meal really special I decided that it needed some English style roast potatoes that turned out to be the perfect pairing. I can only imagine finishing this meal off with some sautéed savoy cabbage or broccolini. To seal the deal, I have to let you know that each serving of the loin with potatoes came in at less than $2 per person.  Elegance on a budget.  I doesn't get any better than that.

English Style Crispy Roast Potatoes

1 large russet potato for each of your diners (I used 4), peeled and cut into large bite size pieces

1 teaspoon salt or enough to make the water nice and salty

1 ounce of cooking oil (or pan drippings if you aren’t saving them for gravy) per pound of potato (I used 1/4 cup for my potatoes)

Coarse salt for serving if needed

Place chopped potatoes in a large saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover with about an extra 1” on top. Place over a medium high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes; drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the oil into a large baking dish; set aside.

At this point you’ll need to rough the edges of the potatoes up a bit. I have a screen type strainer so after I drain my potatoes I toss them around in it a bit which does the trick. If you don’t have a strainer like mine, after draining pour them back into the saucepan, cover it and shake them a bit to roughen them up; set aside.

Place the baking dish into the hot oven and heat the oil until it is smoking. Remove the dish from the oven, making sure to close the oven door behind you and pour the potatoes into the hot oil. When the oil is hot enough, you will be rewarded with a nice loud sizzle.  Working quickly and carefully, stir the potatoes around in the hot oil doing your best to cover them in oil before replacing the dish back in the oven.

Bake the potatoes in the oven uncovered for approximately 40 minutes, stirring them two or three times during the baking time. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. I love serving these with chopped fresh rosemary sprinkled over or with malt vinegar and ketchup for less formal occasions.

Serves 4


Midwest to Midlands said...

So funny to me that you posted about English roasted potatoes (as in coincidence.) I have been thinking about the differences in what you find in the British grocery stores vs. American ones at this time of year. Stacked out today were jars of goose fat, not something you would see in the USA I don't think. I've never used goose fat before but thought I'd give it a try as my husband requested roast potatoes. (Also I bought pork chops that I cook with apples and cider.) Your pork loin looks absolutley delicious.

Karen Harris said...

Oh goodness, what I would give to taste some of your roast potatoes in goose fat. I hope you'll let me know how they turn out.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I think your pork loin sounds delicious. Wrapping it in bacon not only must have added flavor but had to have helped keep it moist. I can't wait to try this.

Lea Ann said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK you for posting this before Christmas. After your description I knew I wanted to make this for Christmas Eve. It sounds perfect, especially since our taste in foods are similar. I learned that after that wonderful Jamie Oliver chicken dish...that pastry thing you made and countless other wonderful recipes I've gotten from you. :)

Andrea @ said...

I'm with you Karen. I'm not the traditionalist in my family and get razzed a bit. When my husband and I lived in Texas - we often went out for Chinese for Christmas. And, as far as Thanksgiving goes we usually go to eat with my rather large family and someone else makes the bird. If I had it at my house, I've already put them on notice - no turkey but something like gumbo. They haven't taken me up on my offer yet, so I'm still relegated to bring the sweet potato pie.