Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apple Cranberry Pork Pinwheels

Do you need an impressive dinner that will wow your husband's boss, make an "outlaw" an inlaw or trick the disapproving mothers in the Mom's Club into thinking you belong in their exclusive snotty organization? If so, visit Martha Stewart's blog; I'm sure she has a ton of ideas for you.

If you need something that tastes really good, looks respectable and pleases YOU deeply, look no further. This is a tried and true recipe that I added to my dinner rotation a few months ago. In the future I plan on stuffing this CENTER CUT pork loin with some other ingredients, but for now, this chutney filling is oh so good. It has a little sweetness and a little sourness; just like me!

I serve the Apple Cranberry Pork Pinwheels with baked sweet potatoes and a small salad. You serve it however you like, but please, do yourself a favor and just serve it.

Apple Cranberry Pork Pinwheels
This recipe is my adaptation of Elise Bauer’s adaptation of a Cook’s Illustrated Recipe (basically it’s a third party recipe)
Chutney Filling
1 cup orange juice or apple juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp onion, grated
1 1/2 cups dried apples (I call this the fruit of my loin)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (this is the fruit of my loin too)
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ t. ground mustard (or a few squirts of yellow mustard will work)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pork Roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast (short and wide - about 7-8 inches long and 4-5 inches wide). I don’t know my cuts of meat, but I think this “center cut” part is important because I have twice NOT purchased the “center cut” version and twice been very disappointed because it is two small pieces of pork wrapped together to look like one big one and thus making it impossible to make this beautiful dish beautiful. So buy the CENTER CUT pork roast.

1. Put the small children down for a nap, as you are about to handle raw meat. You never know what they will do while you have salmonella hands from wrangling raw pork. My luck is someone will snort a Cheerio up his/her nose and need some sort of medical attention while I stand there, hands held up in the air, and say, “I have raw meat hands, honey. You are going to have to take care of it alone. Just blow your nose. Blow. Come on now, blow harder. Dang it, I am about fed up with you. Would you just give it a good blow already!” Note: The coaxing it takes to get kids in bed is the most challenging part of this recipe. Put the pork roast in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to cut.

2. Bring all the filling 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. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the liquid. Use a rubber spatula to press against the apple mixture in the sieve to extract as much liquid out as possible. Pulse apple mixture in food processor, about fifteen 1-second pulses (or just chop it up small like I do). Set aside. Since I usually start dinner when the baby is napping around 2:00, I stop here and finish reduction right before I serve dinner. So skip to step 3 for now and come back to step 2 when the roast is almost ready to serve. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside and reserve this liquid for use as a glaze.

3. You will be "double-butterflying" the pork roast. Lay the roast down, fat side up. Insert the knife into the roast 1/2-inch horizontally from the bottom of the roast, along the long side of the roast. Make a long cut along the bottom of the roast, stopping 1/2 inch before the edge of the roast. Click here to see Elise’s demonstration double-butterflying. You can also see her version of this recipe, but I must say it is lacking because nowhere does she mention putting her kids down for naps, salmonella hands or cheerios in one’s nose. I feel that my minor changes have made all the difference in the final outcome of the dish.

4. Season the inside of the roast well with salt and pepper. Spread out the filling on the roast, leaving a 1/2-inch border from the edges. Starting with the short side of the roast, roll it up very tightly. Secure with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals. Season the outside of the roast generously with salt and pepper. Since Wal-mart is hiding the kitchen twine these days I got creative recently. I made aluminum foil “ropes” and wrapped a few around the loin. Granted they aren’t as pretty as twine, but they worked.

5. Place roast on a rack in a roasting pan, put in 350 degree preheated oven, on the middle rack. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the roast is 160 degrees.

6. When roast is almost ready, return to step 2 and reduce your glaze.

7. Brush roast with half of the glaze and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove the roast from the oven or grill. Place it on a cutting board. Tent it with foil to rest and keep warm for 15 minutes before slicing.

8. Slice into 1/2-inch wide pieces, removing the cooking twine (or aluminum foil home made ropes) as you cut the roast. Serve with remaining glaze.

Serves 6-8 normal people (or 2 ravenous adults)

And one last note: Pat slow smoked the pork roast with some wood chips a few weeks ago . The memory make me speechless. Umm Umm Good! Man, that guy sure knows how to please a woman!

Kid Note: They like the meat, but the looks of the chutney discourages them. Maybe if you put the pinwheel on a stick and call it a lollipop they'll eat it? But probably not.

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