Pork Loin with Apple-Cornbread Stuffing
The clear, sharp sweetness of apples makes the fruit an excellent companion to rich meats like pork.
- 4 ounces bacon (about 5 strips), cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 2 small onions, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 6 firm, tart apples, such as 'Northern Spy': 1 peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups); 3 peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each; 2 cored and cut into 8 wedges each
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped, plus 6 whole leaves
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 ounces corn bread, cut into cubes (about 3 cups)
- 1/3 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
- 1 boneless pork loin (4 pounds; about 1 foot long), butterflied (3/4 inch thick)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 pound cipollini onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a large (9-quart) heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Add chopped onions, fennel, and chopped apple to fat in pot; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add thyme, rosemary, and chopped sage; cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl; let cool completely. Keep pot on stove with heat off.
Add corn bread, stock, and reserved bacon to bowl. Season stuffing with salt and pepper, and gently stir (do not break up corn bread too much).
Generously season cut side of pork with salt and pepper, and then spread with apple-corn bread stuffing, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting from one short side, roll up pork, encasing the stuffing.Tie rolled pork at 1-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Generously season rolled pork with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in pot over high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown pork all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer pork to a large plate. Pour off fat from pot; blot any left in pot with paper towels.
Bring cider to a boil in pot, and deglaze pot by scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon. Return pork to pot; put cipollini onions, peeled apples, and sage leaves around sides. Transfer to oven; cook, uncovered, 30 minutes.
Turn pork over; add unpeeled apples. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted at least 2 inches into pork registers 140 degrees. about 15 minutes more.
Let pork stand in pot at room temperature 15 minutes; transfer to a carving board. Discard twine. Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with apples, onions, and sauce from pot.