So, I was perusing my mounds of cooking magazines a few weeks ago and ran across this beauty. (BTW, I may have a problem… So. Many. Magazines.) It’s gorgeous, impressive, wonderfully Paleo, and more than a little intimidating. For several weeks, it stayed at the back of my mind – I figured I’d wait for a dinner party or even Thanksgiving to try it out, but on Friday Central Market was running a special on pork tenderloins, so I figured I’d give it a try. All by myself.
What I didn’t realize when I bought all the supplies (rookie mistake = not THOROUGHLY reading the instructions before shopping), is that I would actually need to do a little butchery to make this happen. As it turns out, it was a lot easier than I thought… I’m toying with the idea of a video instructional – anyone interested?
I didn’t really alter the recipe at all – it’s pretty stinking amazing to start with, so check it out on BonAppetit.com:
So, here’s a little photo account of the preparation. I’ll say up front that I really liked how this dish turned out… It’s a teensy bit complicated, but the flavors are lovely and you can’t beat the presentation. You can even make it a day ahead and then roast just before your dinner… perfect!
Let’s dig in… I’m a huge proponent of the mise en place style of cooking (French for “everything in place”). Especially with a dish with lots of components, I find it super helpful to get all my ingredients prepped and separated into individual containers. This can also help avoid any surprises mid-recipe when you realized that you totally forgot to buy mushrooms. Here’s my mise en place setup for this recipe:
Some close-ups of the dehydrated mushrooms (porcini) and apples:
As part of the recipe, I rehydrated both the apples and the mushrooms with boiling water for about 30 minutes, until very soft:
While the mushrooms and apples re-hydrated, I briefly blanched some kale in salted boiling water (about one minute)… It turns this absolutely gorgeous shade of green. This was actually my first time to have kale, and I highly recommend the preparation.
Once the kale was blanched, I shook it off, placed it on a rimmed baking sheet, and popped it into the fridge to cool.
Next up, finalizing the pork loin filling… I minced up the mushrooms and apples and cooked them along with some minced onion and garlic. I added dried rosemary and thyme, and then season the mixture with liberal salt and pepper. After letting the mixture cool completely, I mixed in 1 lb. of ground pork to complete the filling and set aside.
Next up, butchery!! I spaced on getting a pre-cut pic of the pork loin… it’s basically a long, cylindrical cut of pork, and by looking at it, it’s not entirely clear how to get over a pound of filling inside it. The recipe instructed me to do a roll-cut of the loin, which actually turned out easier than expected. I feel like my first try went really well, but I know how to improve my technique next time around. Basically, you just make a very shallow cut along the bottom, unroll the meat a bit, make another long shallow cut, unroll, etc. You end up cutting a spiral from the cylinder such that it rolls out flat like a carpet. Pretty stinking cool.
To get the loin ready for stuffing, I needed to even out the thickness a bit. Lacking an actual meat tenderizer, I rigged a solution with a small saucepan. I’m pretty sure Calphalon would not support my use of their pan in this manner, but hey, it worked pretty well.
Once the meat was set, I seasoned with salt and pepper and then laid down a bed of the blanched kale leaves, leaving a 1″ border around the edge.
I then took the cool pork/mushroom filling and spread it all over the kale. I was pretty liberal, but took care to keep it 1″ from the edges. I also laid out my twine in preparation for tying up the roast.
Here’s where I totally forgot a step… I did a gorgeous (if I do say so myself) first-time wrapping/tying job, tucked in my rosemary, wrapped it in plastic wrap and TOTALLY FORGOT to wrap it in prosciutto. Given my (perhaps concerning) love for prosciutto, I actually pulled it out of the fridge, unwrapped and untied it, wrapped in proscuitto, re-tied, and re-wrapped in plastic. Silly, silly girl. Was definitely worth it in the end. Here’s a pic pre-prosciutto:
Before roasting the loin, I spent about five minutes browning it on all sides (in some grass-fed butter). As you can see, my loin was a little too big for the pan, but it all ended well.
I laid the browned loin on a bed of cut granny smith apples and added a mixture of water and applejack (hard apple cider) to the pan.
I popped it in the oven with my digital thermometer and ended up pulling it out about an hour/hour-fifteen later. Not gonna lie – it smelled REAL good at this point.
The recipe actually has a recommended sauce, but given that it was 9:30 on a Sunday night, and I was really hungry, I opted against it. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I honestly loved the dish sans sauce. Here’s the lovely finished product…
Juicy, tender pork with all kinds of flavorful goodness inside. I’ve been cutting up 4oz. portions for the last couple of days, and I’m going to be very sad when it runs out. This would be an incredible dish for a dinner party or even Thanksgiving. Let me know if you give it a try!