The holiday season is well under way and it really shows here in North Brooklyn.
Christmas tree stands every few blocks, a giant electric menorah on the corner of Bedford and North 7th, blinking lights lining apartment windows and fire escapes, subway passengers with arms loaded up with shopping bags, inescapable holiday music everywhere you go…
You know, the ushe.
Yesterday we stopped at one of those aforementioned Christmas tree stands and I carried our little 3 foot cutie home with one hand. After dinner we drank Dark and Stormys and listened to disco music (instead of the usual holiday tunes) while we gussied her up.
I’ve usually got cookies and cakes and candies (and sugar plums et al) dancing in my head this time of year, but instead I’ve been very concerned about what to make for Christmas dinner lately.
(fret not dear friends, I promise the cookies and cakes are still in the works too!)
See, we’ve got big plans on Christmas day this year so I’m getting really excited about making a big fancy dinner.
Working in retail for the past several years has always meant that it’s just me and Russell and the pups for Christmas. These past few years have been totally fun, and really refreshingly casual and stress free, but they haven’t really been occasions to go all out when it comes to the holiday meal.
This year though, my mom and little sister found themselves with no plans for Christmas so they’re piling in the car and coming down to pay us a visit! Let the festivities begin!
Mom’s always bummed that she never gets to eat any of the treats I post here on the blog, so I’ve got big plans to make a few of my recent recipes for her while she’s here. I’m going to load her up with enough sugar and sweets and goodies that she won’t even want to look at another blog post for at least a year. Or, at least until the new year that is!
We can’t just live on Christmas cookies for three days though. I mean, we might still try anyway, but I thought I should at least attempt to think of an actual meal to serve on Christmas day.
Growing up my family usually served either ham or prime rib on Christmas, but Russell doesn’t really like either of those. Ham tends to be too salty for him, and we always have way too much leftover after dinner anyway. The last time I made a ham for Christmas we were eating ham sandwiches and split pea soup for a week! As for prime rib, I’d be in heaven but Russell doesn’t like meat that isn’t cooked completely through so that’s out too.
My initial thought was to make the pot roast I made a few months back, which would probably make everyone happy (very happy) but I’ve already made that so I couldn’t share it here and where’s the fun in that?
Oh what an exciting life I lead!
Instead I decided to make a pork loin roast. Not just any pork loin roast though, this puppy is butterflied, pounded flat, stuffed with magic, and rolled up jelly roll style before it’s roasted and sliced.
Rolling this back up and tying it with butcher’s twine can be a bit challenging but when you take your first bite you’ll know it was all worth it. The thinner you can pound out the meat the easier the rolling will be, but the pounding can be a time consuming (and noisy) job. The good news is that it’s also a great way to work out any pent-up frustrations after you do your holiday shopping!
This roast is truly amazing and I can’t wait to serve it for mom on Christmas. The meat is rich and tender and moist, and the stuffing is flavorful and sweet and earthy all at once. You really can’t ask for a better stuffing for pork than bright jammy dried cherries, tons of fresh herbs, and chewy earthy wild rice. As if the roast wasn’t amazing enough on it’s own, you finish it all off with a pan gravy made from white wine and the liquid leftover from soaking the dried cherries. The result is a rich, bright, and slightly sweet and fruity gravy that is literally the cherry on the sundae!
Are you reading this mom? Is your mouth watering yet?
Can’t wait! Happy Holidays y’all!
Cherry and Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Roast
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked wild rice (from about 1/3 cup dry)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 dry white wine, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium if possible)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Trim large pieces of fat from pork roast. Butterfly the meat by making a lengthwise cut down the center, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the other side so that the meat can be spread open and laid flat. Cover the flattened roast with plastic wrap and, working from center to the edges, pound with flat side of a meat mallet (or small cast iron skillet) until meat is a uniform 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Remove plastic wrap and generously season meat with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside to rest while you make the stuffing. Refrigerate if you won’t be making stuffing right away.
Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small lidded saucepan. Add chopped cherries and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, place lid on pan, and let the cherries soak for 10 minutes.
Heat butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove cherries from soaking liquid with a slotted spoon and add to onions and celery. Reserve liquid. Add cooked wild rice and herbs and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce until mostly absorbed. Cool stuffing completely before proceeding.
Spread stuffing over pork and roll up as tightly as possible. Seal the seams with toothpicks, leaving enough pick showing that they’ll be easy to remove after cooking. Tightly tie up the roast with cooking twine.
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or oven safe roasting pan over medium high heat. Sear roast on all sides, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer, uncovered, to a 375F oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads at least 145F, about 80 to 90 minutes.
Remove roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board tented with foil. Rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If any stuffing or meat burned onto the pan, try to scrape it up with a wooden spoon but leave it in the pan. There should be at least a few tablespoons of oil and grease in the pan, if not, add a bit more olive oil. Add flour and stir into oil and grease and heat over medium for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining 1/4 cup of wine, 1/2 cup of reserved cherry soaking liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and thicken for a 2 to 3 minutes. Strain any burned bits of stuffing or pork out of the gravy with a fine mesh sieve.
Remove toothpicks and twine from roast, and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Serve topped with gravy. If desired, serve over a bed of wilted ruby chard or braising greens.