Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cooking: Fig-Stuffed Roast Pork

I recently saw a recipe for a fig-stuffed pork loin in The New York Times, so I thought I would have a go at it. Here's my modified recipe:

Fig-Stuffed Roast Loin of Pork
serves 6 or more

1 Cup dried black mission figs
Port (either tawny or ruby; I used Jonesy, a blended port from Trevor Jones of Australia)
1 boneless pork loin, 2 to 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced (about 1–2 Tablespoons total)

Cut stem tips off of figs, then place the figs in a tall drinking glass. Cover with port and let sit for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Stick a long, thin knife through the center of the pork loin (go in at one flat end and come out the other; I used a boning knife for this). Take a wooden spoon and insert the handle into the cut you just made, wiggling it around a bit to enlarge the hole somewhat. Stuff the figs inside this cavity. If you can't get them all in, you can add them to the roasting pan or reserve them for when you make the sauce.

Tie the roast with thick, cotton butcher's twine. It should be nice and plump. Place the pork in a roasting pan, then pour about 1/2 Cup of the port used to soak the figs over the pork. Season the meat well with salt, pepper, and the minced rosemary.

Place the roast in the  pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and baste the roast with either pan juices, or more of the fig-soaking port (do not let the pan dry completely—add water if you don't want to add more port). Continue to baste the roast every 15 minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 145° or 150° when stuck into a think part of the roast (make sure it's not in the fruit stuffing, but actually in the roast). Remove the roast and tent with foil to keep warm.

Place the roasting pan on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. If you have any fig-soaking port and/or figs left over, add to the pan. If there is no liquid in the pan,  you can add fresh port or water, about 1/2 Cup. Scrape up any congealed meat juices and brown bits, and boil the sauce until reduced and slightly thickened.

Slice the pork to the desired thickness (it will be moist and pale pink), then drizzle with the sauce. Serve extra figs on the side.

I served this with spaghetti tossed with some butternut squash that I had cut into bite-sized pieces, then roasted with sweet onion, garlic, fresh sage, salt, pepper and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. I reserved about 1/2 Cup of the pasta water, adding it, along with about 1/2 Cup of freshly grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese (this was for two servings). I meant to add a handful of chopped Italian parsley, but it got forgotten in the end.

The pork was extremely moist and succulent, the port adding a complex fruity sweetness that was nicely offset by the rosemary. We're looking forward to having leftovers in sandwiches tomorrow.

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