Friday, March 04, 2011

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

On my way back from the vineyards yesterday where I was working with Tim on his research project I noticed that the Meat Lab board was out. For those not familiar with the meat lab, it is a small processing facility run by the Animal Sciences program. The facility is federally inspected by the USDA and sells meat from chickens, pigs, cows, and lambs, as well as some prepared food products like sausages and cheese. It is one of my favorite things about UC Davis and it is only open two days a week.

Browsing the two refrigerated cases and doing my best not to step on the small children as they shop from the bottom shelf, baskets in hand, I spotted my catch - a pork tenderloin and some ground lamb. The lamb will go into something Moroccan or Persian next week. The tenderloin was destined for dinner.

The next big question was how to prepare the meat. After very little consideration, I decided to stuff it with stuff I had at home - dried cranberries, parsley, caramelized onion, and breadcrumbs. With a bit of additional consideration I decided to go get some cashews to add some crunch and while shopping for cashews I saw white mushrooms were on sale, so I picked up a few of those, too.

To stuff the tenderloin, I had to open up the meat for stuffing. I open up the loin using what the lady in the video below calls "Roll Cutting." (It's a pretty good video)

And now, after being dazzled with pork cutting techniques, is the recipe:

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin over Mushrooms

Feeds two with leftovers

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

2 onions, halved and cut into 1/4" half moons
1/2 lb white onions, quartered
1 pork tenderlion, about 1 lb.
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 slice of bread
1/4 cup cashews
a handful of parsley
some red wine (I used the delicious 2008 Blenheim Vineyards Petit Verdot).

Heat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, add a little bit of the cranberries (about 1/4 of them) to some red wine and let them rehydrate.

Roasting the mushrooms Quarter the mushrooms and place them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Add enough olive oil just to coat the mushrooms and toss them around to distribute the oil. Add some salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, while onions are cooking. Throw the slice of bread on the pan to dry out a bit.

For the caramelized onions Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Stir around for a few minutes until they start to take on a bit of color. Add a tablespoon of brown (or white) sugar. I know. It's cheating. I also didn't want to spend an hour on the onions. Stir in the sugar and lower the heat a bit, to medium-medium-high. Keep some water on hand. When the onions dry out and start to crackle, instead of sizzle, add some water. In about 20 minutes the onions should be nicely brown.

Prepare the pork tenderloin Open up the pork loin using the roll cutting method from the video. Pat dry on both sides and give it a little bit of salt.

To assemble the filling Chop the cashews into smaller pieces. If the cashews are salted, you shouldn't need to add any more salt to the filling. Chop up the caramelized onions. They are pretty gooey at this point so they should just fall apart. Add to the cashews. Chop the parsley and add to the filling mixture. Chop the cranberries and add to the filling. Do the same with the bread.

To fill, and roll Spread the filling over the unrolled tenderloin. Press the filling into the meat so it sticks when you are rolling it up. Roll up the tenderloin. I start from the back to the front, but it doesn't matter. I was out of butcher's twine, so I had to seal mine closed with toothpicks. If you have twine, truss it up, like in the video or however you feel comfortable. It doesn't have to be pretty.

Sear roll, then put into the oven At this point, you can probably take out the mushrooms. They should be shriveled and have some roasted flavor. Lower the oven to 350ºF. Heat some olive oil in an oven-safe pan. I use cast iron for this because cast iron pans are perfect for this - they hold heat well and transfer from stovetop to the oven. When the oil is just about smoking, turn on the kitchen fan and put in the stuffed tenderloin. Allow it to brown on the first side, approximately 4 minutes. Rotate the loin and repeat so the whole thing gets brown.

Once the tenderloin is all browned up, put the mushrooms into the pan around the loin and put it into the oven. I also threw in whatever leftover caramelized onions I had that didn't make it into the filling. Roast until the internal temperature gets to your pork-comfort-doneness level. Mine is 140ºF.

Finish the sauce, eat When the roasting is done, take the pan out of the oven and put it back on the stove. Remove the tenderloin from the pan and put it on a cutting board and cover tightly with some foil. This will allow the juices to get back into the meat and will keep it from getting cold.

Turn the burner back on to medium-high. When the juices in the pan start to sizzle, add the reserved cranberries and the wine that they were soaking in. Reduce the wine until the sauce takes on some body. The pork juices as well as any onion that breaks down in the pan should help to thicken it. Remove your trussing material (twine or toothpicks) and slice.

All done! Eat and enjoy.

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