Fall in My Mouth: Apple Sage Walnut Stuffing with Blue Cheese, Tucked in Pig with Roast Squash & Carrot Ginger Puree.
Oh happy Fall! It’s good to see everybody again – I trust the Summer kept you well. In case you haven’t been following along (and I’m sure you have – you are wonderful, clever little followers), I’m Kristy from Gastronomical Sovereignty (http://gastronomicalsovereignty.blogspot.com); Stacy and I exchange guest posts each season. Well, the seasons have changed and I’m back!
For this post, I really wanted to play with something (ha, I just typed “someone”) that highlighted the joy of a very Fall food. After a few deliberations – it came to me: Apples! Let’s eat apples! Before I got into food politics and eating in an ethical manner I had no idea when apples came into season, they were just “there”. But now – NOW – I look forward to early September, when all of a sudden these gorgeous little spheres of fruit start appearing on all the trees in my neighbourhood. And then all of a sudden, I’m getting handfuls and armfuls of the little guys in my CSA box!
But what to do with them? I thought to myself, pie? No, trying to avoid buttery, decadent pastry right now. Or at least, my waistline is. Sauce? Maybe… but I wanted to keep the integrity of the apple and really showcase it’s flavour andÂ texture…
Ah – ha! I had it! Apple sage walnut stuffing with blue cheese. Um, yes please!
And then came the inevitable dilemma of what to stuff it in. I wasn’t sure about posting a meat recipe because to be honest, I think as a culture we eat way too much meat as it is. It’s unhealthy for us and the planet, as well as for those who process the meat and the animals. But then it occurred to me – people aren’t going to stop eating meat. The best we can hope for is that people reduce their meat intake and that the meat they do eat, is happy. And so – pork it was! I do encourage you to make this recipe with local, organic, free range, happy pork – usually to be found at your local farmer’s market. If not, ask one of the farmers there or even call up your local butcher – someone will know in which direction to point you.
If you don’t eat meat, stuff it all in a hollowed out apple and bake briefly for a super delicious side dish or a decadent treat and garnish with a little balsamic reduction. Oh heaven!
What You’ll Need for Stuffing:
4 to 5 Small Apples, washed & dried well.
1/2 Medium Sized Onion, finely diced.
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed.
Handful of Fresh Sage Leaves, roughly torn if large.
1/4 C Blue Cheese, crumbled.
1/2 C Walnuts, toasted & roughly chopped.
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar.
1/2 C Dry White Wine.
1 Lemon, for juice.
4 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
+ 3 Lb Happy Pork Loin.
1 C Flour.
What You’ll Need for Puree:
1/2 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed & roughly chopped into approximately 1″ pieces.*
5 Small Carrots, ends cut off, peeled, & roughly chopped into the same size as above.*
1 – 2 Tbsp (depending on your preference) Freshly Grated Ginger.
3/4 C Chicken Stock (you can sub veggie if need be).
1/2 C Moderate to Heavy Cream.
Dash of All-Spice or Cinnamon & Nutmeg.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
What to Do:
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a roasting pan with aluminum foil (this will catch drips and make clean up so much easier!). Insert a wire cooking rack and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Take your pork out of the fridge and set on a cutting board. You wanna butterfly this baby so, with a very sharp knife, carefully slice by making a horizontal cut through the side to open it up like a book, but don’t cut through the end. Now, repeat the process with the left and right sides starting from the middle so that you have four attached parts. Roll up and refrigerate while you make the stuffing.
In a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice and mix with a couple Tbsp of water. Core your apples and finely dice. As you dice, rinse the apples in the lemon/water mixture to prevent browning. Set aside.
In a large pan (I like cast-iron), heat 3 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Once it starts to sizzle toss in onion and cook about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well. Next, throw in the apples and sage and mix well to combine. Cook about 10 minutes, or until the apples begin to soften and the mixture is nice and fragrant.
Throw in the white wine, stir, and then then cider vinegar. Reduce the liquid for a few minutes until absorbed and then remove from the heat. Combine the walnuts and blue cheese to the mixture.
Set aside to cool slightly.
Once the stuffing has cooled somewhat, roll out the pork on a flat dry surface. Season well with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over three quarters of the loin, leaving one quarter at the end bare. Fold the bare portion over to enclose part of the stuffing, then roll the rest of the meat into the shape of a roast. Secure with butcher’s twine in 3 or 4 places and season the outside of the meat with salt and pepper.
Roll in the flour to coat – this will make the meat a nice dark colour after you do the following…
Re-heat your pan from before over medium-high heat with a couple glugs of olive oil and the final Tbsp butter. Once hot, sear the loin on all sides to brown (but not cook!). Remove from the heat and transfer to the prepared roasting pan/rack. Place in the oven and cook 20 to 25 minutes per pound for medium-well meat – approx. Â 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes. Slice thinly & serve!
NOW: while your pork is in the oven, make the puree:
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Toss in the squash and carrots, drizzle with olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Chuck in the oven and roast for about 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. Add the ginger and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Throw the cooked veggies into a food processor, add 1/4 C of the chicken stock, 1/4 C of the cream, the spice, and smash to baby pulp. Continue adding cream and stock until you reach a consistency that’s thick like room temperature butter. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Transfer to a small saucepan, cover, and leave on the stove to be re-heated as your meat rests after cooking.
Now dish up & EAT! Happy Fall everybody! XO!
*Amendment: to make your life a lot easier, don’t peel & dice the squash before roasting. Wait until after it’s cooked and it will just fall off the skin into the processor. As for the carrots – if they’re new small ones, they won’t need peeling at all. But if they’re big ‘ole old ones, they’ll need to be peeled before roasting.