Smoked Stuffed Pork Loin Roast
"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." Mae West
Tender, juicy, smoky, delicious, spectacular looking, and fast. Could you ask for anything more?
Pork loin is lean tender tube of muscle attached to the ribs on one side and the spine on the other. It is the prime rib of the hog. When they talk about eating high off the hog, this is the cut they mean.
Because it is so lean, it is a great cut for stuffing with something moist. If you cook it properly, serve it at 145°F, it will be tender and juicy. Because it can be showy, this dish has special occasion written all over it.
1 fresh pork loin roast, about 10 pounds
1 pound of Bread & Butter Stuffing with Cranberries
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of Simon & Garfunkel Rub
1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
About the salt. The rule of thumb for dry brining is 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound.
Optional, but recommended. Make 1 cup piccata sauce. Spoon about 3 tablespoons on each plate when serving, and lay a slice of the meat on top.
1) Sprinkle the salt all over the meat and rub it in. Let it sit in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.
2) Bread stuffing. Make about 1 pound of your favorite bread stuffing. I use my Bread & Butter Stuffing with Cranberries. It's moist, fruity, slightly sweet, slightly tart, and really complements the pork. Make it extra moist, don't cook it before you stuff the pork, and make extra, so you can cook and serve some on the side.
Pesto stuffing. Another approach I like is to stuff it with an herb paste, like pesto. I thin it with olive oil and toss in some raisins and toasted pine nuts. Sometimes I soak the raisins in rum and microwave it for about 30 seconds to speed the soaking. I then drink the rum that has not been absorbed.
Dried fruit stuffing. Occasionally I make a stuffing of dried fruits, whatever I have on hand, mix in some chopped walnuts or pecans, some melted butter, and some sweet red wine.
3) Slice open the meat. You can simply take the tube and slice it across the middle like a hot dog bun, stopping about 1/2" from cutting all the way through, leaving a hinge as shown below (that's a bread stuffing).
A more elegant method, that also gives you more stuffing and moisture, is to insert a long, sharp knife about 3/4" above the cutting board work the knife along at the same height sort of unrolling the meat, as shown below.
4) Now pile on the stuffing. Try to level it from edge to edge, front to back (that's a pesto stuffing below).
5) Roll the meat back over the stuffing and, with butcher's twine, tie the bundle every inch or so. Coat the meat with olive oil, and sprinkle with an herb rub, something without salt since we have dry brined it. The oil helps brown the meat, keeps moisture in, and pulls flavor from the oil soluble herbs. I use my Simon and Garfunkel Rub.
6) Insert your meat thermometer probe in the center of the thickest part. Insert your meat thermometer probe in the center of the thickest part. Set up the grill in a 2-zone configuration or get the smoker started, and get the indirect zone up to about 325°F. But because this is lean meat and there is little sinew and connective tissue to melt, we can cook it hotter than usual.
7) Add the meat and the wood for smoking at the same time. Go easy on the wood. We only want a hint of smoke. This is delicate meat. At 325°F the roast will cook to 140°F in about 1 to 2 hours, depending on how thick it is, what is in the stuffing, and how steady you can keep the temp. Plan on 20 to 30 minutes per inch of thickness and the widest part. Take it off at 140°F and it will rise to 145°F from carryover. As usual, if the meat is done early, hold it in a faux cambro until the rest of dinner is ready. Below is a roast stuffed with chopped dates, raisins, walnuts, and moistened with sweet red wine.
7) Cut in 1/2" slices and serve with soused apple slices, extra stuffing on the side, and a slightly sweet Riesling.