Introduction: BACON WRAPPED PORK LOIN STUFFED WITH APRICOTS, CRAISINS & PINE NUTS
I discovered a beautiful 4 lb half center cut pork loin on sale the other day for $8.32! This is what it looked like the next day after being marinated, stuffed with apricots, craisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, & orange marmalade, then wrapped in bacon & roasted for about an hour!
Step 1: INGREDIENTS (about 10 Servings)
For the Pork Loin and Marinade:
- A 3 to 4 lb pork loin (this was a 4 lb center cut half pork loin).
- *1/2 cup Orange Juice (I like Tropicana's 50 with 50% less sugar)
- *1/2 cup Apple Juice (I used Everfresh Premium Granny Smith 100% Apple Juice)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic (more or less) (also optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary)
- *First: You will need 1 cup each of OJ and AJ; half will be used in the marinade and the other half will be used to soak the apricots and craisins used in the stuffing. Secondly: I discovered this blend of Orange Juice and Apple Juice by accident and really liked it, but I am sure that you can use all orange juice instead.
FOR THE STUFFING:
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup Craisins
- 1/2 cup each Orange Juice & Apple Juice (or 1 cup OJ).
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 cup Panko seasoned breadcrumbs (or breadcrumbs of your choice; even gluten-free).
- 1/2 cup sugar-free Apricot Preserves (I like Smuckers).
FOR WRAPPING THE ROAST:
- About 1/2 lb of lean bacon (more or less; depends on the size of the pork loin)
- 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, crushed rosemary, and ground sage
- 1 teaspoon Salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal Salt Sense since it has 33% less sodium than sea salt and it comes with Iodine which is very important to your diet)
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- String or twine to tie around the roast..
For the Roasting Pan and the Marinade:
- 1 cup of good sweet Marsala Wine
- A couple of carrots, 2 or 3 stalks of celery, and half of a large yellow onion.
Step 2: PREPARATION, STEP 1
STEP 1: Butterfly the pork loin; prepare the marinade, and marinate the pork for about 3 hours.
- *Slice the pork loin as pictured, opening it up and flattening it out.
- Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper.
- Smash and peel the garlic if using.
- Strip the leaves off of a couple of stems of Rosemary and grind them in a mortar (they really won't "grind," but breaking them up or smashing a little helps to release the flavor).
- Fold the pork loin in half (unless you have a really big refrigerator) and place it in a large ziplock bag.
- Mix together the OJ and AJ; add the garlic and rosemary to the mixture, then pour it into the ziplock and over the pork.
- Place the bag into a suitably sized container (just in case it leaks) and marinate in the refrigerator for about 3 hours, turning it over several times during this period of time
*Allrecipes has an excellent video on how to prepare and stuff a pork loin. If you have never done this before you will find this video very helpful: http://allrecipes.com/video/3082/how-to-stuff-a-pork-loin/
Step 3: PREPARATION, STEP 2
STEP 2: Soak the dried apricots and Craisins for several hours (soaking them at the same time you marinate your pork loin will work fine); then make the stuffing.
- Place the cup of dried apricots and the 1/4 cup of Craisins in a large glass or ceramic container. Pour 1/2 cup of OJ and 1/2 cup of AJ (or just 1 cup of orange juice) over them. Cover and refrigerate
While the pork loin is marinating and the apricots and Craisins are soaking, you can toast the pine nuts:
- Preheat a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. When it becomes hot, add the 1/4 cup of pine nuts and toss and toast for about 4 or 5 minutes; then set them aside.
This is also a good time to prepare the vegetables that you will place in the bottom of your roasting pan.
- Rinse the celery stalks and carrots (and peel if you want). Also rinse the onion and cut it in half.
- Chop the carrots and celery into 1/4 to 1/2" size pieces; slice the half onion into thick slices. Set aside. (you might want to wait until the pork loin has marinated for at least 2-1/2 hours before prepping the vegetables just for the purpose of safe food handling).
After the fruit has soaked in juice for about 3 hours, remove it from the refrigerator. Drain the Apricots and Craisins and discard the marinade. (You can also remove the pork loin from the refrigerator; pat it dry and sit it aside until you are ready to stuff it).
- Place the drained Craisins in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Dice or finely chop the apricots and add to the bowl.
- Toss in the toasted pine nuts and mix thoroughly.
- Add the 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and the 1/2 cup of apricot preserves.
- Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage and thoroughly blend all the ingredients (using your hands works well here)..
Now you are ready to stuff and wrap the pork loin (see next step)
Step 4: PREPARATION, STEP 3
STUFF AND ROAST THE PORK LOIN:
PREHEAT OVEN TO 450 degrees F.
- Lay the pork loin flat with the inside facing up
- .Cut about 8 lengths of twine a couple of inches longer than the the width of the flat roast and have them ready to use.
- Spread stuffing evenly down the center of the pork loin leaving space around the ends and edges as pictured (I could have used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup more stuffing then I had made).
- *Roll the pork loin around the stuffing (like a jelly roll, but don't squeeze hard or you will force the stuffing out).
- Wrap strips of bacon around the pork loin (this one was to fat so the bacon strips did not go all the way around. I ran two strips length-wise down the top of the roll, then placed 5 or 6 more strips horozontally over the top and down the sides, tucking them under as far as they would go).
- Lift one end of the roast up and place a length of cut twine across the an and under the roll. Bring it up; tie it tight and cut off the ends (this ain't easy to do, folks - I could have used one more hand)!
- Repeat this procedure 2 more times, working from the outside end inward, but do not tie off the middle yet.
- Start working at the other end, and, again, raise up the end; place a length of string under the roast - bring it up, tie it off and cut off the ends. Continue to work toward the middle. This way you are preventing the stuffing from escaping out either end, and sort of heading it toward the middle.
- Now tie off the middle.
Next, Sear the tied roast before placing it in the oven.
- Place 2 TBS of vegetable oil into a heavy nonstick pan or cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high.
- When the oil is hot, carefully place the bacon-wrapped pork loin in the pan and begin searing it, turning it from side to side (about 1 minute per side) until the bacon has just begun to brown.
- Remove the seared loin and place it on a wire rack, in the roasting pan and on top of the chopped vegetables
- Roast at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes; then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for about 1 hour, *basting after 30 minutes, and then every 20 minutes thereafter until done (until the internal temperature of the pork (do not place thermometer into the stuffing) reaches 150-155 degrees.
Basting (see next step)
- *NOTE: I intended to rub the rolled stuffed roast with a mixture of dried sage, thyme, and rosemary before wrapping it in bacon, but I got so busy I forgot to do this. To compensate, I added the mixture of dried herbs to the cup of Marsala wine that would be used in basting.
Step 5: BASTING THE PORK LOIN:
As noted earlier, I forgot to rub the rolled and stuffed pork loin with dried sage, thyme and rosemary before wrapping it in bacon, but I forgot to do so. Consequently, and 1/2 TBS each of these dried herbs to 1 cup of sweet Marsala wine, and used it t baste the roast.
- After the pork loin has roasted for 30 minutes (10 minutes at 450 f, then 20 minutes more at 350 f), I poured about 1/3 cup of the herb-flavored wine over the the top, letting in run down the sides.
- After that, I continued to baste every 20 minutes using a combination of marsala wine and the juices from the bottom of the pan until the roast was done. (Using an oven mitten, carefully lift up one end of the roasting pan and, with a ladle, dip some of the pot liquor out and pour it over the roast).
Step 6: FINALLY, TIME TO EAT . . .
I worked so hard on this recipe, I ate two slices of roast stuffed pork and a half of a big sweet potato that I baked along side the roast, and washed it all down with a (much deserved) Tequila highball!
As you can see, I did not get those "nice, round, slices of meat with a perfect portion of stuffing nicely centered in the middle of each slice that are usually pictured. I am pretty confident that I could have achieved that effect had I continued to roast the pork loin for another 10 to 15 minutes - and I could have done that, but then the roast would have been dry, or at least, on the dry side. This was perfect as far as I am concerned - perfect for dinner; not for the movie theatre!
I cut two slices of roast from near the center; surrounded them with some of the vegetables from the bottom of the pan, and ladled a couple of tablespoons of "pot liquor" over the top. OMG.
Good, good, good.
Step 7: NUTRITION (provided You Eat Just One Slice of Roast Stuffed Pork Loin)!
I have estimated the nutrition of this recipe to the best of my ability using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Analyzer. Just click on the image to enlarge it. Analysis does not include the baked potato.