Modified from Food Network Recipe by Paula Deen
Finally, the first day of fall! My favorite time of the year, but it’s hard to pick a single reason why I love fall so much. It’s not simply the demise of summer, with its heat, humidity, bugs and glaring, harsh sunlight. The cooler temperatures, beautiful colors of changing leaves, golden afternoon sunshine, and the wonderful late harvest fruits and vegetables are all welcome. However, I think my fondness for fall comes more from a feeling of “winding down” and being able to enjoy simple things – like a stroll through the woods, a crossword puzzle on the porch, eating a crisp apple off the tree, sitting on an empty beach, getting warm beside a campfire. What a relief it must bring for nature – time to stop producing and let go of the leaves! Autumn’s bounty is a joy – so let’s slow down, relax and appreciate.
We drove up to north Georgia a couple of weekends ago and came back with lots of apples, peaches, and vegetables. The peaches were eaten up pretty fast (and were oh, so delicious and juicy), but I still have about a half bag of Winesap apples. Time to stuff another pork roast! Apples, bacon, onions, and sage….a classic combination that just can’t go wrong.
I forgot to brine this roast ahead of time. It was still very good, but I would recommend using a brine to bring out more of the pork flavor and to lessen of possibility of drying it out. The steps for brining are described here, in our recipe for Stuffed Pork Loin with Apricots.
- One 2 1/2 to 3 pound pork loin roast, butterflied (Need instructions on butterflying a roast? Check out this excellent demonstration.)
- 4 strips of bacon, and reserved bacon drippings/rendered fat
- 2 apples, cored and chopped (a crisp, tart variety would work best)
- 1/2 large, sweet onion, chopped
- ~10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup grain-free bread crumbs (optional – I used trimmings off this quick grain-free bread)
- Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a roasting pan with foil, and insert a metal roasting rack. Spray with non-stick spray or oil lightly.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Reserve bacon for later. Drain all but 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. Add the onion to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until onions are softened. Add apples and sage, and cook until apples are starting to get soft, but are not mushy. Remove from heat. Chop the bacon into small pieces, and stir into the apple mixture. Stir in the bread crumbs, if using.
Lay out the butterflied pork roast on the counter or cutting board. Cut several pieces of butcher’s twine, long enough to tie around the roast. Season the inside of the roast with salt and pepper (you may omit the salt if you brined the roast beforehand), then smear with a thin layer of Dijon mustard. Spread the apple stuffing mixture over the roast. Carefully roll the roast up and secure with kitchen twine. I tie the ends first, then the middle, then fill-in so that is it tied in about 1 inch intervals. Poke any of the stuffing back in that came out when you were rolling and tying. Season the outside of the roast with salt and pepper.
[Note: I never get all the stuffing into the roast. I lightly oil a small baking dish and put the remainder of the stuffing in the dish. Add broth, if needed to moisten it, or top it with a little butter. Bake it near the end of the roasting time until hot throughout.]
Wipe out the large skillet and add a little more of the bacon fat (or olive oil). Heat to medium-high. Sear the roast on all sides in the skillet until well browned. Transfer roast to the prepared roasting pan on an oiled rack.
Roast at 375F until the temperature in the thickest part of the meat is 135-140F, around 80-90 minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for about 15 minutes. The temperature of the roast will continue to rise during this time, and it also gives the juices a chance to redistribute. When ready to serve, slice into thick pieces (1 to 1 1/2 inches).
How about some blues from the ladies? I recently got Alberta Hunter’s Downhearted Blues, and even coaxed out of retirement — in her 80s!– this live set from Greenwich Village club The Cookery smolders. Hunter’s career spanned generations, from Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and she lost none of her talents along the way. From a moving “Georgia On My Mind” to the randy “You Can’t Tell The Difference After Dark”, the entire set amazes.
She was the inspiration for Janis Joplin, and was one of the greatest, and most popular blues singers of the day. This set from Bessie Smith, Queen of the Blues gives a welcome overview to her rowdy ways, with “Beale Street Mama” and “Weeping Willow Blues” among the highlights. Essential!