My local grocery store, the one I frequent most often because there are few real choices around here, was having a very nice sale on pork loin roasts last week. I don’t often buy a pork loin because with just the two of us it’s much more than we need for a meal. But I was feeling quite autumnal and wanted to do something with lovely dried fruits and a stuffed pork loin seemed just the thing!
Looking over the selection of loins, I didn’t find one close to the size that I wanted so I wheeled my cart right on over to the “service bell” and gave it a press. Out came the nice young man from the back of the meat department to see how he could help me. “I’d like a pork loin about 2 1/2 pounds, please,” I said to him. He kindly pointed me to the case where the pork loins were. “Yes, I saw those,” I said back to him, “but they’re all 5 or more pounds. I want a smaller piece of loin. Just 2 1/2 to 3 pounds.” A reasonable enough request, I thought. He looked at me like I was speaking Cantonese. “That’s what we’ve got over there in the case. That’s the way ‘they’ send it to us.”
I have been here before. I knew better than to try to go further with this. What I wanted to say was, “aren’t you a butcher? You work in the meat department. So cut me off a piece of loin that weighs 2 1/2 pounds. Okay?” It would have been futile. Not long ago I selected a beautiful 3 pound chicken that I wanted to take home to fry. I’m just not good at cutting chickens so I wanted the grocery store “butcher” to cut it up for me. I asked for the chicken to be cut up “for frying” meaning I wanted two breasts, two wings, two legs, and two thighs. What I got was eight randomly hacked up pieces of chicken. Arggghhhh. And don’t even ask me what happened when I asked if they could please “French” some lamb chops. It was embarrassing.
Here’s what I want. I want a grocery store that has a real butcher in the meat department. One who truly knows different cuts of meat and how to prepare them himself. Not just how to display what “they” send for the meat case. A butcher who can tell me where the meat I’m buying came from and where and when the fish they’re selling were caught. I want eggs that taste like eggs and milk that tastes like milk should taste. And while I’m at it, I want produce that still has dirt on it. Greens that haven’t been hacked to pieces and sealed in cellophane bags. Apples and cucumbers that haven’t been waxed and polished until they look plastic. And I want all this from my regular, local grocery store. Not from a “specialty” market that I have to drive an hour one-way to reach. Are you listening supermarket conglomerates?
What I really want is a “Mr. Wyatt’s.” When I was growing up, there was a little bitty grocery store on the town square in Colquitt. It was owned and run by Mr. Wyatt Chambers. The store was actually named “Wyatt’s Grocery” but everybody in town called it simply Mr. Wyatt’s. And when I say little bitty, I mean teeny tiny. I remember that it had wooden floors that creaked when you walked on them. There was one cash register and one bag boy who also made deliveries. That’s right. All you had to do was call up, give your order, and they’d run your groceries right on around to your house. Mr. Wyatt was the store owner and butcher. And he was good at his trade. All you had to do was give him a general idea of what you wanted and he got right to work on it. I remember many times Mama telling me to “run up to Mr. Wyatt’s and tell him I need enough fill-in-the-blank to feed five people for supper.” Coming right up.
I can’t be sure since I was just a child, but I’d be willing to bet that most of the meat and some of the produce Mr. Wyatt sold came from local sources. And he probably did the butchering himself. It wouldn’t surprise me. And, guess what – the produce actually had dirt on it! Imagine that. Sweet potatoes with some of the dirt they grew in still clinging to the skin. Wouldn’t that be heavenly…
Okay, enough. I know I’ve rambled when what you’re really here for is to get a recipe. So let’s get to it.
To make this lovely stuffed pork loin, start by covering the prunes and apricots with hot water. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes and then drain them well. (Note: if your prunes are very moist, they may not need soaking. Use your own judgment.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the bottom rack in the lower third of the oven.
Use some paper towels to dry the roast before you begin prepping.
Stand the roast on its end and insert a thin-bladed knife down the center of the roast lengthwise to create an opening all the way through the meat. Twist the knife gently to enlarge the opening a little.
Stuff the length of the roast with the dried fruit alternating prunes and apricots. If necessary, stuff halfway from one end, turn the roast over and finish stuffing from the other end.
Scatter the carrots, celery, and onion in the bottom of a 9×13 roasting pan.
Combine the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well. Rub the roast all over with the mustard mixture.
Place the roast on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Pour the chicken broth or stock in the pan until it comes just more than halfway up the vegetables. The level of the stock should be below the bottom of the roast.
Cook, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes or to an internal temperature of 150. (The roast will increase in temperature as it rests). Remove the roast from the oven and transfer to a carving board. Tent loosely with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes or until the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees.
Discard the vegetables. Strain the pan juices into a small skillet or saucepan. There should be at least 3/4 cup liquid. Add a little additional chicken stock if needed. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the boiling pan juices. Cook, stirring, until thickened.
Serve slices of pork loin with a little of the sauce.
Other stuffed pork loin and tenderloin recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Lemon and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Loin from Bon Appetit
- Mortadella Stuffed Pork Loin from Epicurious
- Napa Valley Stuffed Pork Tenderloin from bell a’limento
- Spinach Stuffed Pork Loin from Once a Chef, Always a Chef
- Fig Stuffed Roast Pork Loin from Sugar and Spice by Celeste
- Apple and Leek Stuffed Pork Tenderloin from Culinary in the Country
What I was up to…
- One year ago: Apple-Pear Salad and a Birthday Celebration
- Two years ago: Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker
- Three years ago: Texas Sheet Cake