Another Valentine’s Day is upon us, and before you go gettin all surly about whatever state your love life is in (or out), may I suggest celebrating this holiday with other intentions. Rather than scoffing at the ladies who get flowers in your office, or the heart shaped balloons floating over-head, or tacky lingerie with feather boas that line the racks, let’s use today as a reminder of all the people in our lives that maybe we’ve forgotten to show love. Who couldn’t use a little extra love, a smile, a thank-you, a “hey, thanks for listening to my crap all day long,” or the like? And of course, oh, of course, couldn’t these same people use an extra special meal in their lives?!
This dish of pork love is a showstopper, and paired with a gorgeous salad, which I’ll be sharing Thursday, and some creamy Mac n Cheese, which I’ll be sharing next week, it’s a meal fit for a king or queen.
A roasted tenderloin has been on my list of “to-makes” for awhile, so when I finally got around to making it, I had to go whole hog! This process may seem complicated, but once you’ve gotten the meat sliced properly and the loin all tied up, it couldn’t be easier.
Start with your butcher, if he or she is worth their salt, walking in, asking for a tenderloin opened, trimmed and pounded, should be a piece of cake.
Attempting to type out the best way to tie the loin seemed futile, so I attached a video to help you out – I’m a visual learner so I’m hoping you are too.
The loin can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated; just remove from the refrigerator two hours prior to serving, let come to room temp, and then start roasting.
For the bacon lattice, lay 8 pieces of bacon lengthwise, then starting at the top, work 8 additional pieces horizontally. I left it on wax paper, which made wrapping the loin a snap. When the loin rolled and tied, place it in the middle of the lattice, diagonally. Lift each side up over the roast, patting the bacon down. Simply roll the loin off the paper into the roasting pan, and voila! beautiful piggy magic.
Now for some options – for the filling you could substitute feta with goat cheese, or omit all together. I used Crispin Honey Crisp Cider for the roasting liquid, you can use another cider or omit, and replace the liquid with water, or stock of your choosing.
If you wanted to thicken the sauce, you could keep a few apples in the mix, blend after heating, strain, add butter, and reheat.
Once you plan out the steps, it’s super easy, trust me. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part… it tastes like heaven on earth! The warm apples, the smoky bacon and sausage, the tender loin, the funk of the cheese, the sweetness of the sauce – it just works! Enjoy friends, and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Sausage Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped, Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples & Cider Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cubed
1 cup portabello mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 1/2 – 4 pound pork loin
16 slices bacon, I used 13, 6×7, depending on the size of your roast
4 medium apples, quartered, I used Fuji
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup hard cider
In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, sausage, rosemary and apples; cook, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream and feta; set aside.
To butterfly, put pork loin on a work surface with short end facing you. Holding a long, thin sharp knife parallel to work surface and beginning along one long side, cut 1/2″ above underside of roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet, until the entire loin is flat. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound to an even thickness.
Uncover pork, spread cheese mixture evenly over loin, leaving a 1 inch border. Evenly distribute sausage mixture over cheese. Roll pork into a tight cylinder. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1″ intervals. Wrap bacon lattice over roast.
Preheat oven to 400°. Place tenderloin in roasting pan. Scatter apples around roast. Add cider and water to pan. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loin registers 140°, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let roast rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Place roast and apples on a serving platter.
Place the roasting pan with remaining bits and juices over medium heat. Add butter, hard cider, whisking to release any stuck bits from the pan. Stir occasionally for approximately 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain into a serving bowl. Slice pork, and serve with apples and sauce spooned over top.