My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fennel Stuffed Pork Loin

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
~Ronald Reagan

Talk about food to get excited about.  This delicious dinner first ended up on our table several years ago after I'd been inspired by an episode of The Barefoot Contessa.  It is a fabulous roast that looks more complicated than it actually is.  I tweaked it a tiny bit and added a rub on the pork and some gravy that we all decided is essential.   Even though this is just a regular weekday and no company was expected, we noshed on it tonight.  The Mister was in hog heaven...get it?...heh  heh.  All the ingredients were inexpensive (the loin only cost $6.00), and in fifteen minutes I had the stuffing made and the pork loin butterflied, stuffed and trussed.  Generally, I would serve this on a holiday, or as a Sunday dinner, but I thought I'd toss it out there in case any of you were looking for holiday dinner ideas.  The nice thing about it is, any leftovers can be chopped up and tossed in a slow cooker with some cream of celery soup and a splash of sherry.  We liked that as much as the original dinner! 

Fennel Stuffed Pork Loin
serves 6
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2006

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups sliced onion
2 cups sliced fennel (1 large bulb)
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine
1 small can chicken broth (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/3 cup flour
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) loin of pork, butterflied

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

For the stuffing, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet.  Add the onions and fennel with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Cook over low to medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions and fennel are tender and lightly browned.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the white wine and bread crumbs.  Cool slightly.
Butterfly the roast.  Using a very sharp knife, with the loin lengthwise, make a cut just less than 1/3 of the way down and cut straight across to within about an inch of slicing straight through.  Then cut down about an inch and back the opposite way.  You can open the roast as you go.
Spread the stuffing evenly over the pork and roll up lengthwise, ending with the fat on the top of the roll.  
Tie with kitchen string.
Rub roast with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. [I make a rub with 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and rub the entire roast with this.]
Place in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees F and roast for another 30-35 minutes [add 1/2 cup white wine and can of chicken broth to roasting pan when there is 20 minutes left of cooking time], until the interior of the pork is 137 degrees F on a meat thermometer (if the thermometer hits stuffing rather than pork, it will register a higher temperature, so test the meat in several places.) Remove from the oven, transfer roast to carving board and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  allow to rest for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, make the gravy.  Place roasting pan (unless it is ceramic) on range over med-high heat.  Bring drippings to a boil and boil, scraping pan with spatula.  Strain drippings if needed.  In a small bowl, whisk flour with 3/4 cup ice cold water.  Slowly add to pan drippings (on med-high), adding slowly and whisking constantly until gravy is the desired thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the strings from roast, slice thickly, and serve.

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