Christmas is a relatively new experience for me, it wasn't until my wife (then girlfriend) brought her Jewish New Yorker boyfriend home to meet her Catholic Texan parents that I really celebrated the holiday. Nervous and overwhelmed by a 12-hour affair with 50-plus family members, I turned to comfort in food. Hovering next to the mega-buffet most of the day, the honey ham, Filipino BBQ, and lumpia Shanghai with a sugary dipping sauce formed my idea of what the Christmas meal should be—sweet, meaty, and overly indulgent.
This recipe kind of reminded me of that: the sweet mixture of dried fruit is stuffed in the middle of a brined pork loin, then grilled. Although I wished there was a better stuffing-to-meat ratio—if I make this again I'll be butterflying the pork, spreading the stuffing over it, then rolling it up—it still created a juicy piece of meat that was nothing but savory-sweet goodness, fulfilling my requirements for a Christmas dish.
- Yield:4 to 6
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- For the Brine
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 boneless pork loin, about 3 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
- For the Stuffing
- 1/4 pound dried apricot halves
- 1/4 pound dried figs
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) finely chopped
- Type of fire: two-zone indirect
- Grill heat: high
Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 quarts of cold water in a large container. Completely submerge the pork loin in the brine and place in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
In a medium saucepan, combine apricots, figs, raisins, apple juice, chicken broth, sage leaves, butter, ginger, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat and until the fruits are reconstituted and the liquid is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the fruit mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until thick and smooth.
Remove the pork from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Carve a tunnel through the center of the loin with a sharpening steel or wooden dowel. Widen the tunnel using your fingers. Inject the sauce into the opening using a pastry bag fitted with a metal tip. The filling should go all the way through the loin.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush the pork loin all over with olive olive oil and sprinkle on the herb mixture, salt, and pepper. Place the pork on the hot side of the grill and sear on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Move the pork loin to the cool side of the grill, cover, and cooking until a instant read thermometers reads 160 degrees when inserted into the center of the meat, 30 to 45 minuted longer. Remove from the grill, let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.