If someone had asked me to make a stuffed pork loin or stuffed chicken back when I first started cooking, I would have been pretty intimidated. Stuffing meat was for Thanksgiving and Christmas, right? Why would you use a special-occasion technique for any old weekend meal?
After I figured out how easy it is to make stuffed meats, however, I couldn’t be stopped. What’s better than a plain chicken breast? A chicken breast stuffed with roasted red peppers, artichokes and cheese. What’s better than a plain pork tenderloin? A tenderloin stuffed with dried fruit dressing.
I took this attitude to the kitchen recently to test a recipe that looked so good on paper (well, a computer screen) I just had to try it. It calls for Spanish chorizo, which is fully cooked and hard like salami. But the Latino grocery store down the street from my house, La Estralla Latina on Williamson Road, carries fresh sausage. I went with the fresh sausage instead, browning it in the skillet and draining off the fat before combining it with the other ingredients. I also made one other change, sauteeing about 1/4 cup of chopped onion to add to the stuffing.
As per usual, I had more stuffing than I had space to stuff, but I made the most of it by butterflying the loin, pounding it out well, and using kitchen twine to secure the stuffed roast so the goodies wouldn’t fall out during roasting.
In our household, we favor some kind of sauce with our pork loin. With this recipe, however, the moisture and flavor of the stuffing are all you’re going to need. After you make this stuffed pork, you’re going to want to stuff your mouth.
I served this with asparagus and baked butternut squash. My favorite way to make butternut squash is to slice it open lengthwise, then cut each piece in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds and place the squash, skin side down, in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then put a pat of butter inside each of the two holes that contained the seeds. Return to the oven until the butter has melted, then use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter over the cut surface of all four pieces. Cook an additional 15 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper, or salt and sugar, or cinnamon and sugar — whatever you prefer.
Do you ever make stuffed meat dishes? If so, what’s been your favorite?
Pork Loin Stuffed with Chorizo and Spinach
Although this recipe does not call for onion, I sauteed about 1/4 cup of chopped onion and added that to the stuffing. I’ll do that again next time.
1 (10-oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded smoked or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I used extra-sharp Cheddar)
2 oz. Spanish chorizo (see Note) or hard salami, finely chopped (I used one link of fresh sausage)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 (1-1 1/)4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Combine spinach, cheese, chorizo (or salami) and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Combine garlic, 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in another bowl; set aside.
3. To butterfly the tenderloin, lay it on a large cutting board. Holding the knife blade flat and parallel to the board, make a lengthwise cut through the center of the meat, stopping short of the opposite edge so that the tenderloin remains in one piece. Open as you would a book. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper. With a meat mallet, rolling pin or heavy pan, pound the pork to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
4. Spread the spinach mixture in the center of the pork, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Starting at a long side, roll up the pork to enclose the filling. To keep the stuffing from falling out during roasting, fold in about 1 inch of the two short ends as you roll. Tie kitchen string firmly lengthwise around the roast to secure the two ends, then tie it crosswise at 2-inch intervals.
5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and lightly brown the pork on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes total. Brush the top with the reserved garlic mixture; season with pepper. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest on a clean cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing.
Adapted from Eatingwell.com