How was your Christmas? Are you enjoying yourselves? Spending time with family and friends? Having some richer, more indulgent foods? An extra drink? Good, ’cause I am!
The family’s Christmas dinner went splendidly. All the dishes turned out very well, we had some good chuckles and reminisced of Christmases past.Â The centerpiece of our Christmas dinner was this roast loin of pork stuffed with prunes.
In the Greek tradition, a roast pork of some sort is usually cooked, some opt for lamb and yes, turkey also appears on the Greek Christmas table. Our family has also enjoyed a Prime Rib of Beef, which has everything to do with our living as Greeks in the Diaspora.
The bottom line about Greeks and celebrations during the Christmas holidays is worship at church and spending time with family and friends. When it comes to the festive table, Greeks splurge on Christmas dinner, entertaining friends and when it comes to going out for New Year’s Eve.
For the Greeks, it’s good luck to throw some cash around. Be it treating friends to rounds of drinks or fighting over who gets to pay for dinner are the obvious gestures. Playing cards, games of chance and even heading to the casino are standard activities for many Greeks during the Christmas holidays.
Splurging when entertaining at home is another extension of trying to coax some good luck for the coming year. It’s the end of the year, spend a little extra when entertaining/hosting a dinner. Our family had the pork loin, others had lamb, and some had turkey.
What to have for New Year’s Day? I think any of the above suggestions, just don’t repeat the meal. Pork loin is out of the way, so why no a whole roast turkey? Perhaps a leg of lamb, studded with slivers of garlic and roasted the Greek way with Greek oregano, lemons and potatoes? How about a Prime Rib? I’m getting hungry again!
I’ll be talking about all these options tomorrow when I appear as a guest with radio hostess, Caterina Papadopoulou. You can catch Caterina (a self-proclaimed foodie) and I chat about food, and in particular Greek food during the Christmas holidays.
Tune into AM1690 CHTO tomorrow (Dec.28th) at 8PM EST (same time zone at New York City). For those of you who are out of earshot of Toronto’s radio frequency, you can also hear the show by visiting the radio station’s website and listen live to a streaming webcast.
Back to the “meat” of the post, the stuffed pork loin. I would be a big fat Greek liar if I told you this dish flopped. It was moist, it was tasty, it was a showpiece to present at the table and it was easy to prepare.
Again, a little know-how in butchering and tying-up meats and anyone can pull this “main event” dish. What I used here was the pork loin. The leanest section of the loin is the center-cut.
Essentially, this pork loin comes from the same part of the pig that both you and I get our pork chops from. The butcher (a female who’s treated me very well of late) removed the bones and gave me a gorgeous, boned pork loin that had both the tenderloin and strip-loin equivalent in pork. You want both parts for this recipe: for stuffing and for a moister end-result.
The flavourings for this pork loin are quite simple and they have quickly become a family favourite where pork is concerned. Rosemary and fennel seeds. I grind up dried rosemary and fennel seeds and then mix them with mustard, garlic, black pepper, paprika and orange and lemon juices.
The flavours are subtle but you know they are there…especially when this baby is roasting in your oven, reminding you that something delicious is roasting in the oven. Prunes were chosen for the stuffing. Dried fruit are dominant in the Greek pantry in the winter and fruit and pork are a happy pair. Make your family a happy unit with this roast pork dish, it’s a standard for my family – add it to yours.
Loin of Pork Stuffed With Prunes
1 boneless pork loin, center-cut
coarse sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. of fennel seeds
1/4 cup Dijon style mustard
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. of paprika
3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice and zest of half an orange
juice and zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
10-12 prunes, butterflied
Pre-heated 350F oven
1/2 cup apple cider, apple juice or dry white
1 cup vegetable or chicken stick
- Rinse and pat-dry your pork loin. You should visually be able to discern between the tenderloin and strip loin part of the roast. Carefully cut separate the two parts of meat while leaving the roast in tact. This is where your stuffing (the prunes) will go. Cut the prunes open (butterfly them) and place them slightly overlapping each other in the pocket formed by cutting open the loin.
- Season the inside with a little salt and pepper and carefully roll up the roast. Take some butcher’s twine ( you need a good length of twine) and tie up one end of the roast. Now wrap and twist the butcher’s twine around your handÂ (making a loose loop) and slide the loop under the roast. Tighten the loop round the loin and repeat this step until you’ve formed tight loops around the entire length of the roast. Turn the roast over and using the remaining twine, lace the the tight loops of twine but passing the loos twine under and then over to the next tight loop. You should end up with a lace akin to sewing up an American football. This YouTube clip clearly shows how to tie-up a roast.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Grind your fennel and dried rosemary and and into a bowl along with the mustard, olive oil, zest of the orange and lemon, black pepper, minced garlic and paprika. Whisk until blended and set aside.
- Rub a little oil on your loin and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium high heat and add a splash of oil. Sear all sides of the roast (except the ends) until golden brown. Set aside.
- Transfer your pork to a roasting pan with rack (raising the loin above the pan) and pour the marinade over the pork loin. Season the top of the loin with some coarse sea salt and place in your pre-heated oven (uncovered). Check the roasting pan after 45 minutes to see if the liquid has evaporated. Add a cup of hot water or enough to cover the bottom with liquid.
- Cooking times vary according to the size of your pork roast. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the loin. This particular roast took about 90 minutes or until an internal temp. of 165F to 170F was reached. Remove from the pan, cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Pour the pan drippings into a gravy separator and reserve. De-glaze the pan with white wine, apple cider or apple juice, lifting up the brown bits with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Reserve.
- To a medium saucepan, add a Tbsp. of flour and stir in for about 30 seconds. Add your drippings from the gravy separator (discard fat) and the de-glazed brown bits with the wine and stock. Bring up the heat to medium-high and stir constantly until the gravy thickens. Pass through a strainer and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Snip-off the butcher’s twine from the roast and slice into portions. Serve the pork loin with roast potatoes and green beans. A Kir-Yanni Akakies Rose would pair wonderfully with this pork dish.
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