Twice a year we go to my grandma’s house for a big family gathering (Easter and one weekend in October). The last few times I’ve taken over most of the food planning and preparation as we are trying to give my grandma a break on doing that much work. Typically the big gathering is on Sunday and is somewhat of a potluck but there are still other meals for the weekend and Saturday dinner usually winds up being at least 10 people. So, I’m trying to always find something that will be substantial, while not being too complicated and not the same old, same old.
This year I decided on a pork loin. But not just any pork loin a stuffed pork loin. Wrapped in bacon. The bacon was an afterthought. I don’t know that it added anything other than just being bacon. Because of the size of the pork loins I grabbed (about 4.5 lbs) I decided to do two of them. I realize that was putting the meat per person at almost a pound but I thought one wouldn’t be enough. Plus, leftovers are always good.
So I went back and forth on how to stuff them. What to put in and then actually how to do it – butterfly it to roll up or just cut a pocket. I had done a stuffed pork loin a long time ago that was apples, raisins and something else I can’t think of and that had been one where it was a pocket. I didn’t want to recreate that and I wanted to try butterflying it so I went that route. After trimming most of the fat off, I went to town cutting it. The way I did it was to make one cut across and then cut down and back over. Think about how you want it to lay (flat and “rolled out”). You’ve got to cut it so it “unrolls”. It is a lot harder to butterfly a pork loin to get it to roll flat than you might think I didn’t do too bad of a job on the first one but the second one wound up with a few holes. As such the first was easier to roll and the second one not so much. (So of course which one do intake out of the pan and cut?????? The one with holes in it. That didn’t work so well cutting it.)
For the filling I knew I wanted to do apples so I put about 1 1/2 chopped Granny Smith apples on each. In the planning process I kept thinking about cheese. I know it sounds weird but I though I’d give it a shot. After some Googling on which cheese pair well with apples (not a big help — too many choices) I went with an apple smoked gruyere. I chopped up about 2/3 of an 8 oz package (grating wasn’t really working) and spread it around. I had brought some walnuts along to add in but I changed my mind and left them out. Oh and I had out a bit of salt and pepper on the pork loin before putting the apples and cheese on. Just a few shakes of each for a little seasoning.
For the bacon, I took one package, weaved the pieces together and placed it over the top. So, as I mentioned before, I don’t know that it added much. It was hard to get flipped over and it didn’t wrap completely around. But at that point, I was committed. I tied it all up with a few pieces of kitchen string and put them in a roasting pan. I added about a cup of apple cider to the pan. I wanted some extra moisture as it cooked. Might have been unnecessary. Can’t say for sure as I don’t have one made without it but there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan.
I put them in the oven for one hour at 200 degrees and then two more hours at 250 degrees. Why the two temperatures? Mostly because I was slightly paranoid that it wasn’t going to be done even though I knew it would be after three hours. For the last 10 minutes I turned the broiler on to crisp the bacon. That was another reason why I don’t know if it added much as it still looked uncooked after almost three hours. Anyway, I took one out and let it rest for a bit before cutting the string and attempting to slice it. I say attempt as I managed to take out the one that had the holes in it (as I mentioned above) so it pretty much disintegrated as I was cutting it.
In the end it was tasty. The cheese added an unexpected but pleasant compliment to the pork. It wasn’t a combination you might think of but it worked.