27 September 2013

Fruited Pork Loin Roll - Easy Entertaining

This is a simple and very tasty meat dish that I always have a hankering for when the autumn season rolls around ... it must be the colors of this dish - golds and browns plus the greens and oranges of accompanying fall vegetables. They have cued my brain to make this for dinner. Do you have certain dishes that you positively must make once the air crisps up and the trees start to turn? Or the first snow flies? Or the snowbanks melt and the breezes soften and springs seems eminent? Or summer's sun is blazing and the humidity is climbing? Seasonal favorites ... you gotta go with the urge because it's then that that certain dish tastes the best! Really! I truly believe this to be true!

Anyway ... I use this dish when I'm having a few friends in for a fall dinner. This dish begins with a small two pound pork tenderloin, and this concoction of chopped Medjool dates, dried apricots, dried thyme flakes, Kosher salt, black pepper, minced garlic, and molasses. You lay the loin out and slice into it length-wise partway through to open it like a book. Then, you slice both 'book sections' lengthwise partway through to create two long 'valleys'.

Smear the fruit filling and sticky molasses juices down the whole length of the loin, using the 'valleys' to load the chunky fruit in.  Drizzle just a bit of olive oil over the filling - just a bit! Then roll the loin up snugly, starting from the shorter sided end. Use some butcher twine to tie the loin up neatly. Voila! The roast is ready to be rubbed up with a bit of olive oil or (if you have it) topped with two or three strips of good bacon. Set the roast in the fridge and make the roasting sauce.

This is where good bourbon comes in ... put equal measures of chicken stock and bourbon in a sauce pan. Add a tablespoon of so of molasses and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently for about ten minutes to reduce things a bit. Make a slurry with cornstarch and water and carefully add some to the mix - just a little at a time to thicken the sauce just until it makes a soft coating on the back of a spoon and stays for a few seconds on your tongue without dissolving immediately - I know. Weird, but it can't be too thick or too thin. Remove from the heat and let it cool just a bit while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Place the cool roast on thick slices of onion in the bottom of a roasting pan that just fits the roast. Pour the sauce over top and pop in the oven. Baste the pork numerous times during the roasting time (seven or eight, as the roast takes a bit over an hour to cook). I use a roasting thermometer jabbed in the roast for knowing when the pork is perfect. I roast to 145 degrees F and then take the roast out, cover it with foil and a couple towels and let it cook up to 155 degrees F - the pork will be moist and slightly pink at  the center of the roll when sliced.

While the roast 'rests' under cover, I drain off the basting sauce and bubble it with a bit of cream in a small saucepan to make a creamy gravy that gets poured over the sliced pork. Toast some nuts - almonds or pecans are good - and sprinkle them over the roast, make thick slices and drizzle some of the sauce over them and serve the pork loin roll with roasted fall vegetables - potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts.

This is an easy roast to make for company, as you can do much of the prep ahead of time and enjoy your friends while everything is roasting to perfection. The sauce can be finished with the cream while friends get a bottle of wine opened, help you clear away the pre-dinner cheese and crackers, and choose some nice dinner music ... an easy dinner party meal all the way around.

Enjoy Fall !

Fruited Pork Loin Roll


½ c. Medjool dates, pitted and chopped small
½ c. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
¾ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 generous tbsp. molasses
2 -2 ½ lb. pork tenderloin, butterflied
A little spritz of olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into five thick uniform slices
2 slices bacon

Basting Sauce:

⅔ c. reduced sodium chicken broth
⅔ c. bourbon whiskey
1 generous tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. water with 2 tsp. cornstarch mixed in (in a small bowl)

Finishing Ingredients:

¼ c. heavy cream
¼ c. toasted pecans or almonds

Making the Dish:

  1. Combine the basting sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat a bit and let the mixture boil gently for about ten minutes, stirring ever few minutes. Add a bit of the cornstarch slurry and stir to thicken the sauce just a bit. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon and feel soft and velvety on the tongue when you taste it. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit while you prepare the pork loin.
  2. Combine the dates, apricots, garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper, and molasses in a small bowl and stir to make a sticky fruity mixture. Set aside.
  3. Butterfly the pork loin by laying it on the cutting board so that the ‘curl faces you. Make a long slice the entire length that parts the loin like a book, but doesn’t cut entirely through the loin. Press the ‘book’ open. Now make a slice down the length of each ‘page’ that parts the flesh but doesn’t cut entirely through. There should be two ‘valleys’ to either side of the central slice.
  4. Spread the fruit filling and the juices over the pork, concentrating the fruit chunks in the ‘valleys’. Spritz just a little bit of olive oil over the topping.
  5. Starting at the narrower of the tips, roll the pork loin up snuggly. Then, use butcher’s twine to tie the roast, end to end and then spiral the twine around the roll to hold it snug. Tie it off and set it in the fridge for a few minutes while you prep the roasting pan.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Use a small roasting dish that will just hold the pork loin and basting sauce. Rub the bottom of the dish with a bit of olive oil. Lay the thick slices of onion in the bottom of the pan to form a natural ‘rack’ for the pork. Lay the cool pork, seam-side down on the onions and pour the basting sauce over top. Drape the bacon slices down the length of the roast.  Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast.
  7. Bake the roast, basting it every ten minutes or so until the thermometer registers 150 ° F.  When you baste, push the bacon aside for a minute while you get the sauce on the pork loin. Then push the bacon back over top. Remove the roast to a warm platter, cover it with foil and a couple towels, and let it rest for ten minutes while the temperature continues to rise to about 155-160 ° F.
  8. Toast the nuts in a small fry pan until they’re fragrant and just showing golden color. Remove from the pan to a cool plate and reserve them.
  9. Drain the basting sauce into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the heavy cream and boil the sauce a few minutes to thicken it a bit more.
  10. Slice the roast into thick ‘jellyroll’ slices, angle them down the platter and drizzle the sauce over all. Sprinkle on the nuts. Serve piping hot with roasted root vegetables and Brussels sprouts. 


  1. Wow! So pretty. so Yummy. and yes, it looks like fall.

  2. Susan, this looks just perfect!!!
    Have a great weekend

  3. This looks delicious. I always do a pork roast with garlic and rosemary. This recipe would make a nice change. When autumn begins, my taste buds always turn to apples and pumpkins...and pot roast since it's too hot during the summer to make one.

  4. man o man i've so enjoyed catching up on your blog today... this must be the piece-de-resistance for me... I can only but dream of the glorious flavours with the pork... very jealous not to be at your table! x


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