Apples and pork are a traditional duo, especially in the fall. In this pork loin the apple stuffing is embellished with cider-plumped dried figs, caramelized onions, and fresh sage. The pan juices are combined with additional cider and white wine for the sauce.
- 12 ounces large dried Calimyrna figs (12 to 14 figs), left whole with stems attached
- 3 cups apple cider
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cubed (½-inch) onions
- 2 cups cubed (½-inch) unpeeled firm cooking apples, such as Jonathan, Gravenstein, or Granny Smith (about 12 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 boneless pork loin roast (3 to 4 pounds), untied (see Notes)
- 1 cup fruity white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Riesling
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, optional
1. Combine the figs and 2 cups of the apple cider in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until the figs have softened and all but ¼ cup of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Boil, uncovered, to reduce any excess liquid. Cool the figs in the liquid; then strain, reserving the ¼ cup of cider syrup. Set aside 8 whole figs. Using kitchen scissors, trim the stems from the remaining figs and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and apples and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, ½ tablespoon of the sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cutup figs. Set aside to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4. Cut eight 18-inch lengths of cotton string. With a thin sharp knife, cut the pork lengthwise down the center, about three-quarters of the way through, so it can be opened like a book. Season the opened pork with a sprinkling of salt and a grinding of black pepper.
5. Spoon about half of the apple-fig mixture in a thick layer over the bottom portion of the pork, spreading it evenly. Fold the top portion of the pork over the bottom. Slide the strings under the pork, evenly spaced, and tie them firmly but not too tightly. Tuck any stuffing that escapes back into the roast. Rub the remaining ½ tablespoon sage and a generous amount of salt and pepper over the outside of the pork.
6. Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy ovenproof pan over medium heat until it is hot enough to sizzle and evaporate a drop of water. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the pork and sear it on all sides until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat, and spoon the remaining apple-fig mixture around the pork.
7. Place the pan in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan and carefully turn the roast over. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the pork registers a temperature of 135°F, 10 to 15 minutes more. (The internal temperature will rise as the pork rests out of the oven.)
8. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the roast to a cutting board, and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Spoon the apple-fig mixture into a serving dish and cover to keep it warm.
9. And the remaining 1 cup apple cider, the wine, and the reserved ¼ cup apple cider syrup to the pan. Heat to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the mixture is reduced to about ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Taste and add lemon juice if desired, and salt and pepper if needed.
10. Cut the meat into ½-inch-thick slices and arrange them, slightly overlapping, on a warmed platter. Spoon the apple-fig mixture around the edges, and garnish with the reserved whole figs and sage leaves. Spoon the cider sauce over the meat, and serve.
This recipe serves 8, and includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving. Nutritional information is based on using a 3lb pork loin roast.