This is a recipe I’ve been working on for months. I’ve gone through numerous iterations until I finally landed on a version that created the results I was after. I frequently cook pork tenderloin but my experience with pork loin roast has always been, well, sort of unremarkable. Most that I’ve tried through the years were bland and often dry. Until I started brining them. Pork, much like poultry, benefits greatly from brining. The brining process infuses a flavor into the meat that you just can’t get with external seasoning. And the meat stays moist and tender – a definite plus!
Taking it a step further, I decided to butterfly the roast, then stuff and roll it for an extra special touch.
I played with both apples and pears and even added Italian sausage to the mix. The pears were a bust – they totally melted away while cooking which was not the “wow” effect I was after. I nixed the sausage as it competed with the delicate pork flavor. The balance came from a combination of Braeburn apples, currants, toasted pecans and a little thyme with a touch of brown sugar.
To save you a step or two, have your butcher butterfly your pork loin. You can pound the meat flat but I found it wasn’t necessary.
Start the day before you plan to serve the roast. The pork needs to brine at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. To get a jump on things, you can also make the sauce ahead then add the pan drippings prior to serving. This dish has multiple steps but none are difficult. You’ll want to have on hand a large plastic storage or brining bag, kitchen twine, a heavy roasting pan with a rack and a good meat thermometer. Also, a fat separator comes in handy to make sure you add only drippings and not the fat to your sauce.
Because of course in the South you need gravy or a sauce – so a sauce with a touch of apple brandy seemed to do the trick! A beautiful dish perfect for your Easter holiday table or for any festive occasion!
Apple Currant Rolled Pork Loin Roast with Apple Brandy Sauce
To get started:
1 pork loin roast, butterflied, about 4 pounds
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole juniper berries, optional
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 quart water, 4 cups
1 cup apple juice
Place the pork loin in an extra-large (2-gallon) plastic bag or brining bag. Set it inside a baking dish – you want something to catch the drips in the unlikely event it leaks! Keep the roast in the refrigerator while you prepare the brine.
Place the kosher salt, the brown sugar along with the bay leaves, the peppercorns, the juniper berries and the dried thyme in a medium saucepan.
Add the quart of water (4-cups) and place the brining solution over medium heat, stirring until the salt and brown sugar are completely dissolved – about 10 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and set aside to cool completely.
Once the brine has cooled pour the solution into the bag with the pork loin. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to roast, remove the pork loin and rinse it thoroughly. Spread it out flat with the fat cap down on a rimmed baking sheet and pat the meat dry. Let the pork come to room temperature – about 30-45 minutes.
For the stuffing and roasting:
3 tablespoons butter
2 chopped apples, Braeburn or your favorite baking apple, about 3 cups (You want an apple that holds its shape while cooking.)
¼ cup currants
¼ cup toasted chopped pecans
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
1-1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped apples, the currants, toasted pecans, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the brown sugar.
Cook until the apples are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Spread the apple mixture across the center of the pork roast leaving about 2 inches on each end.
Roll the pork up lengthwise and tie it together with kitchen twine.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large roasting pan that has been sprayed with a cooking spray. When the oil is hot add the pork and brown on each side seasoning with the remaining black pepper as you turn the roast. Insert the rack underneath the roast and position it in the pan with the fat cap on top. Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast. Cook at 350-degrees for 1 hour plus 15-30 minutes or until the meat thermometer registers 145-degrees. The meat will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven. The brining keeps the meat a little pink in color even after it cooks. Remove the roast from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board; cover it tightly with foil. If possible, do not remove the thermometer – this will help to keep the juices in the roast. Let the meat rest for 10–15 minutes before carving.
While the roast cooks make the sauce.
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons apple applesauce or apple juice
2 tablespoons Calvados apple brandy
½ teaspoon sugar
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, kosher salt and the black pepper whisking into the butter until smooth.
Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Pour in the broth and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes whisking occasionally until the sauce thickens slightly.
Stir in the applesauce, the brandy and the sugar. Cook for an additional five minutes. As soon as the roast is done, pour the drippings into a fat separator to pull off any fat that has cooked off the pork loin. Then add the pan drippings to the sauce and whisk to blend.
Layers of apples, currants and pecans all rolled into this gorgeous pork loin served with an apple brandy sauce!