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Ringing in the healthy new year by pigging out

December 29, 2010

“Everything in a pig is good. What ingratitude has permitted his name to become a term of opprobrium?” Grimod de la Reynière

carnberry stuffed pork loin

No matter how many years that have gone by, it still amazes me when we come to the end of yet another year. The year always seems to end so abruptly after all the pomp and circumstance of the holidays.  I really like to stop and breathe, then take inventory for the following year. As you can imagine, the way I like to celebrate the changing of the tides is with an elegant and easy meal.

One of the wonders I have discovered this year is pork. It is interesting to admit that I have always given pork the evil eye. We all know why we shy away from pork; high in fat and cholesterol.  I am here to break that myth. The truth to the story is that there is as much fat and calories in 3 oz of pork loin as in 3 oz of skinless chicken breast. Also pound per pound pork has more nutrients and protein than chicken. Wow.

Pork loin or pork loin chops are a wonderful, healthy way to enjoy this decadent meat. Knowing that loin is low in fat it is important to cook it like all low fat meats. Either slow and low or hot and fast, so not to dry it out. Moist heat, such as braising, poaching, simmering, and crockpot cooking, also works well. It is a good idea to lightly oil the top of your pork loin to keep it from drying out while cooking.

Another myth to dispel about pork is that you don’t have to overcook it to kill bad unspeakable things. This was a problem a long time ago, not now. Cook your pork till it is still the lightest shade of pink. If you cook it till it is white, you have over cooked it. Brining the loin, such as in the following recipe, is a nice way to keep it from drying out.

It is important however, to carefully pick where your meat comes from. Pork from big factory farms is not a good choice. Just look it on the web to convince yourself.  Choose pork from small caring farms, such as the many we have around here. Those pigs have been raised in big happy enclosures and slaughtered humanely.

Here are a few of our local farmers to buy pork from;

Lance’s Farm Vittles; 503-322-2226

Okay Ranch; 503-322-3546

This dish is a solid winner. It is easy, relatively fast and very showy. You can mix up what you stuff the loin with. The other night I stuffed one with feta, sundried tomatoes, garlic and pesto. Delizioso! Use your imagination and have fun. I hope your new year brings you health, happiness and many a good belly rubbing meal! Oh, and enjoy some pork this year.

Cranberry stuffed pork loin

2 pound pork loin

2 cups of cranberry juice

1 cup of water

2 tablespoons of kosher salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 large pear, chopped fine

1 tablespoon of fresh minced rosemary

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup of chevre, (goat cheese)

2 tablespoons of dried cranberries

1/8 teaspoon of salt

Few cranks of pepper

Little olive oil

Cranberry sauce for pork

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup of fresh cranberries

½ cup of cranberry juice

3 tablespoons of sugar

To stuff the pork loin, you first need to flatten the thing. Lay it on a nice solid cutting board and cut it horizontally through the center of the loin, but not through it. Open it flat like a book. Cover the loin with plastic wrap and pound the loin with a small heavy frying pan or a meat mallet. Pound it till it is as thin as you can get it. (Or ½ inch thick.)

Combine the cranberry juice, water, salt and sugar in a large bowl and stir till dissolved. Add the pork loin into the marinade and tuck into the fridge for 4 hours or so to marinate, turning occasionally.

When the time has come, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and drain the pork loin in a colander. While it is draining, combine the pear, garlic, chevre, cranberries, salt and pepper. Open up the loin and smear it with the chevre mixture. Roll up the roast, jelly roll style, and lay in a lightly oiled baking pan seam side down. (Some people like to tie it with kitchen string) Oil the top of the loin with a wee bit of olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes or so (20 minutes per pound) till it is succulent and cooked through. Let stand for 15 minutes before you slice it.

While the loin is waiting for the great cutting, add the onion to a slightly oiled skillet and sauté till fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the fresh cranberries, juice, and the sugar to pan and cook over medium heat scrapping up the browned bits. Reduce to simmer and cook for 5 more minutes or until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens. Serve up the loin slices with the cranberry sauce on the side. Happy New year!

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