2009 Christmas Dinner

Wow, I can't believe it's already Christmas. This year has definetely been a memorable one and it has just flown by. I can't believe 2010 is right around the corner.

Tonight I had my girlfriends over for our annual Christmas dinner. Usually we go out to a restaurant but I thought it would be fun to have a potluck this year. The above photo is a cake one of the girl's brought. We ate him after the meal but left his face intact since he was too cute to eat. The penguin looks very much like other characters I have decorated around my house for the holidays.

I cooked the entree and made Cook's Illustrated Stuffed Pork Loin, and it was very tasty. They always seem to know what they're doing. I have never butterflied a pork before and it was a bit challenging. I messed up a little but you couldn't tell because everything was rolled up nice and snug...so no one was the wiser. We ate this along with another friend's green beans and roasted potatoes-which were equally delicious. It was a night of good eating spent with great friends :)

I modified the recipe to cook it in the oven. The original recipe cooks it on an outdoor grill. The original recipe can be found here

Grilled Pork Loin with Apple-Cranberry Filling

This recipe is best prepared with a loin that is 7 to 8 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide. To make cutting the pork easier, freeze it for 30 minutes. If mustard seeds are unavailable, stir an equal amount of whole-grain mustard into the filling after the apples have been processed. The pork loin can be stuffed and tied a day ahead of time, but don't season the exterior until you are ready to grill.

Serves 6

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 large shallot , halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups dried apples (packed), 4 ounces (I used 1 cup dried apples and /2 cup of raisins)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (packed), 2 1/2 ounces
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds (I used dijon)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Pork Chops
2 1/2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast (see note above)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. FOR THE FILLING: Bring all ingredients to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Push mixture through fine-mesh strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes; reserve glaze. Meanwhile, pulse apple mixture in food processor until uniformly coarsely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer filling to bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes while preparing pork. WHEN GLAZING PORK IF IT SOLIDIFIES, THEN PUT BACK ON HEAT AND IT’LL MELT AGAIN.

2. FOR THE PORK: Butterfly meat to even 1/2-inch thickness. Season only inside liberally with salt and spread apple filling in even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border (illustration 4). Roll tightly and tie with twine at 1-inch intervals. Then Season outside liberally with salt and pepper.

4. Roast in 425 F oven until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 133 degrees, 55 to 70 minutes. Rotate pork every fifteen minutes to ensure even browning and so it stays moist. (I did not rotate mine so the bottom cooked the most and got a little dry) Brush roast with half of reserved glaze; flip and brush with remaining glaze. (You may need to reheat glaze briefly to make spreadable.) Continue to cook until glaze is glossy and sticky, about 5 minutes longer.

5. Transfer roast to cutting board, loosely tent with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. (Internal temperature should rise to about 145 degrees.) Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, removing twine as you cut. Serve immediately.