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Apples add flavor, keep stuffed pork loin moist

Onions, currants, sage combine in savory stuffing

With apple season in full swing, it’s time to get a bunch and work them into savory dishes.

Some apples, such as tart varieties like Granny Smith and Empire, keep their shape better when cooked. Red and golden delicious apples tend to soften too much but can still be used.

Pork and apples, of course, are a great match. For today’s recipe, fresh and dried apples are mixed with sautéed onions, currants, sage and hard cider to form a stuffing for a pork loin. The boneless pork loin is butterflied and the stuffing is spread over the pork, which is then rolled and tied.

To butterfly means to slice the pork loin (you can use a pork tenderloin, too) down the center and almost through. Or, you can slice it from the side and almost through to the center. Just make sure you slice it evenly.

When you spread it open, like a book, it should lie flat. Sometimes I place a piece of plastic wrap over it and, using a mallet, pound the meat to an even thickness. This makes it easier to roll once you spread the stuffing on it.

The apples in this stuffing not only provide great flavor, they also help keep the pork moist.

Once the pork is done, be sure to let it rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Pork Loin Stuffed with Fresh and Dried Apples

Adapted from “An Apple Harvest” by Frank Browning & Sharon Silva (Ten Speed Press, $16.99).

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped

1 cup chopped dried apples

3 tablespoons dried currants

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 bottle (12 ounces) dry hard cider

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 cups fresh apple cider

1 boneless pork loin, 4 to 5 pounds, trimmed of excess fat, butterflied

6 sprigs of fresh sage

2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the onions and ginger and saute 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the fresh apples and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until they begin to turn light brown. Stir in the dried apples, currants and sage. Pour in the hard cider and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the hard cider is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a roasting pan that has a rack, pour the fresh apple cider into the bottom of the pan.

Lay the butterflied pork loin flat on a work surface and spread the cooled stuffing evenly over the meat. Roll up the loin, encasing the filling. Use kitchen string to tie the loin at intervals, pushing in any stuffing that starts to come out the sides. Season the loin with salt and pepper and tuck the sage springs under the strings. Place in the roasting pan.

Roast about 1 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest point reaches about 145 to 150 degrees.

Transfer the pork loin to a cutting board and let stand about 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, if desired, pour the pan juice into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Whisk until thickened.

Snip the strings from the roast, cut into slices and arrange on a platter. Serve with the sauce on the side if desired.

Yield : 8 generous servings

Approximate nutrition per serving : 589 calories, 33 grams fat (11 grams saturated, 50 percent fat calories), 43 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 128 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams dietary fiber, 128 milligrams sodium.

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