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.
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.
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.