Well friends, it seems like fall is finally here. The crisp morning air, the overcast skies, and slowly but surely decreasing daylight hours. This time of year always leaves me craving something rich, juicy, and comforting. And that something is pork. I didn’t truly come to appreciate pork until my early twenties, because as a child my main exposure to it was through my dad’s pork chops which tended to be a bit overcooked, and so I just assumed that was the way all pork was supposed to taste and feel. But the USDA has actually reduced the required cooking temperature for pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, so when I slow-cooked pork shoulder at our first post-college 4th of July party, a whole new culinary world was opened to me. Tenderloin, medallions, belly, spareribs, shortloin, collar butt, striploin, rack, and pork roast, I tried and loved them all.
Pork is very diverse in flavor and goes well with both sweet and savory ingredients. So, to kick off Porktober, I decided to stuff the tenderloin with apples, sausage, rosemary, and shallots. The apple, breakfast sausage, and rosemary have a sweet tinge to them, so I rubbed down the outside of the tenderloin with some salt to add a contrasting savoriness to the dish. I got my tenderloin at Costco because they have a huge range of pork cuts for really affordable prices, and every week this month a different cut of pork will be discounted to a special price to celebrate national pork month. You can see what’s next on the discount docket here. I always like going to my there because most of the employees still recognize me from our family’s restaurant days, when we’d make a weekly pilgrimage to Costco to stock up on restaurant supplies. Every Sunday we’d get there right when they opened and make the rounds, stocking up on paper plates, huge canisters of seasonings and containers of yogurt for tzitziki, and all other sorts of goodies. And after doing that routine for about 30 years, you begin to get to know the people you keep seeing over and over again. They still ask me about how my parents are enjoying retirement and what my siblings are up to, and I think that’s probably my favorite thing about being back in a small town. Seeing the same people in the same places and being able to forge those little relationships with people. Like having your dry cleaner know you by name, or having an actual oil change guy instead of just using whichever place has a coupon. Little things like that just make the world feel a bit cozier to me.
I’ve been a pretty confident pork preparer for a while now, but I had never actually attempted to stuff a pork tenderloin, and I was a bit nervous about the hammering aspect. You see, to help get the meat flatter so that you call roll it up like a jelly roll, you have to pound it with a meat tenderizing mallet for a bit. I have almost no upper body strength, so I was worried about how I would fare on this front, but the pork was already very tender which made it much easier to flatten, and I also found it to be an incredibly soothing outlet for pent-up frustrations. You see, the kitchen remodel has been going kiiiind of terribly, the day they were supposed to install the cabinets we got word that they hadn’t even built them yet (*brain explosion*), so I’ve been cooking at my parents’ house since we’ve had to wait another two weeks for them to actually build them. So being able to hammer away for a slightly extended amount of time really helped release some of the anxiety and irritation that had been holing up inside me, although I do feel a bit bad for my dad who walked in on me hammering away at the meat like a crazy person, and then slowly backed out of the kitchen. But once he had some of the tenderloin, he knew that all that maniacal hammering was totally worth it.
The pork was tender, juicy, and rich with taste. The tenderloin absorbed all the flavors of the herbs, sausage, and apples simmering away inside it, as well as their juices, which infused every bite with a savory and sweet flavor component. I also roasted the tenderloin in a pan with about 1/4 inch of water that helped keep the pork nice and moist during the long cooking time. The result was as ideal an autumnal meal as you could hope for, complete with seasonal ingredients and a comforting aspect to it that just makes you want to curl up at home and eat warm fall foods all day. But, if tenderloin isn’t your thing, there are hundreds of different ways to prepare pork at PorkBeInspired.com and they all look equally delicious, so there’s a lot of recipe options out there for you. I hope you are all enjoying the first signs of fall as much as I am, and keeping yourselves warm by putting your oven to use.
Apple, Rosemary and Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- 1/4 cup shallot diced
- 6 ounces uncooked pork breakfast sausage removed from casings
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 apple peeled & chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 pound 4 ounces pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Sauté the shallots, pork sausage, and 1/4 teaspoon salt over medium heat until the sausage is nearly cooked through and the shallots are transparent, breaking apart the sausage as it cooks with the end of your spoon. Add the apples and rosemary and sauté for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Make a lengthwise cut down the center of the tenderloin, stopping about 1 inch before the other side. Unfold it and lay it flat between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to hammer the meat and flatten it slightly.
- Remove the plastic wrap and rub both side of the tenderloin down with the olive oil, black pepper, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Lay it flat and place the filling in a straight line lengthwise down the center of the tenderloin.
- Starting from one side, roll it up jelly roll-style until the two sides overlap slightly. Keeping the seam on the side, tie up the tenderloin. Once it is tied, transfer it to a roasting pan, seam facing down. Add water to the pan until it is 1/4 inch deep and place the pan in the oven.
- Roast until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit after letting the tenderloin rest for 3 minutes before measuring the temperature, (cook time is about an hour and 10 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes depending on the size of your tenderloin). Carve and serve immediately.