Ever since this summer, I've been on a kick of rolling up my meat roasts with fillings. This method packs flavor throughout the entire roast, instantly creates a cool presentation, and is just fun to make. While browsing Cook's Illustrated last week, I came across a recipe for a grilled pork loin with an apple-cranberry filling that was just begging me to make it.
The recipe started with dried apples and cranberries, simmered in a mixture of apple cider, cider vinegar, and spices that filled the house with the sweet smells of winter warmth. The liquid and solids were then separated, the liquid boiled down to a glaze, and the solids pulsed in a food processor and spread into a butterflied pork loin and rolled up.
The idea was that the mixture seasons and moistens the meat from the inside out while cooking, and while it did achieve the flavor portion quite well, the pork was still a tad on the dry side. The sweet and fruity filling was so well paired with the pork that this recipe will assuredly be gracing my grill again, but to make it totally perfect, I'll probably brine the loin first next time.
Grilled Pork Loin with Apple-Cranberry Filling
- Adapted from Cooks Illustrated -
- For the filling:
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
- 1 large shallot , halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups dried apples (packed), 4 ounces
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (packed),
- 2 1/2 ounces
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the pork:
- 2 1/2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 medium wood chunks
Bring all ingredients for the filling to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Push mixture through fine-mesh strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes; reserve glaze. Meanwhile, pulse apple mixture in food processor until uniformly coarsely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer filling to bowl and refrigerate while preparing pork.
Butterfly pork loin to even 1/2-inch thickness. Season inside liberally with salt and spread apple filling in even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border. Roll tightly and tie with twine at 1-inch intervals. Season exterior liberally with salt and pepper.
Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. Place wood chunks on top of the coals and allow to start burning and producing smoke.
Place roast, fat-side up, on grate over cool side of grill. Cover grill and position vent, halfway open, over roast to draw smoke through grill. Grill-roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 130 to 135°F, 55 to 70 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking time. Brush roast with half of reserved glaze; flip and brush with remaining glaze. (You may need to reheat glaze briefly to make spreadable.) Continue to cook until glaze is glossy and sticky, about 5 minutes longer.
Transfer roast to cutting board, and let rest for 15 minutes. (Internal temperature should rise to about 145°F.) Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, removing twine as you cut. Serve immediately.