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Brian Boyd, Editor, Shore Publishing/Zip06.com
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A few years ago someone – it was probably my mother – suggested that we ought to have a family dinner sometime before Christmas. A date was chosen a few weeks before the holiday, and a tradition was born. The hardest part about this single holiday meal isn't in planning the guest list or decorating. It always comes down to the menu and finding something that everyone will enjoy, won't eat 10 times over during the holiday season, and will feed a crowd. Fortunately, my family is one of carnivores – there' s not a vegetarian or vegan among us – and none of us have food allergies. That makes choosing a crowd-pleasing meal a bit simpler, and last year we hit on a winner: Cranberry stuffed pork tenderloin.
Rather than use a pork tenderloin, we opted for a much larger boneless whole pork loin which we cut a smaller piece from and froze, while reserving the larger cut for our dinner party. We doubled the recipe below to accommodate our nearly 8-pound pork loin. If you also opt to use a large pork loin instead of a smaller tenderloin, be sure to make sure you have a pan large enough to accommodate the length of the loin – we were forced to resort to using the roasting pan used for our Thanksgiving turkey. Also, you may want a kitchen helper to lend a hand rolling the pork up so the stuffing does not wind up all over you and all over the kitchen floor.
Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
1 cup chicken flavored dry stuffing mix
½ cup water (for enhanced flavor you can use chicken broth instead of water)
1 3-pound boneless pork loin roast
1 cup chopped apple
⅓ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup toasted pecans
¼ cup finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Combine the stuffing mix and water in a mixing bowl and set it aside. Grease a roasting pan with cooking spray.
Trim the fat and any connective tissue from the pork loin. Cut from one side through the middle horizontally to within ½-inch of the other side. Open the two sides and spread them out like an open book. Place the pork loin between two sheets of heavy plastic (freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the pork with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of ½-inch.
Stir the apple, cranberries, pecans, and onion into the stuffing mix. Spread the stuffing mix onto the cut side of the loin. Roll the pork into a firm cylinder, and secure with cooking twine. You may need a helper to hold the pork in its cylindrical shape while you secure it tightly with twine. Place into the prepared roasting pan. Season the top with salt and pepper.
Bake in the preheated oven until the pork is no longer pink in the center, about 1 hour. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145. Cover the meat with two layers of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes. Remove kitchen twine before slicing and serving.
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