Pork and apples is a classic combination, but until now my experience of the apple part of the equation has been limited to applesauce. I decided to take this concept further by stuffing a pork loin roast with Ambrosia apples that were sautéed in caramel, and then glazing the roast with my homemade apple butter. Thyme was my herb of choice for this dish, appearing in the both the stuffing and the glaze.
The result was even better than I had hoped. The apple butter glaze was sticky and nicely caramelized, which heightened its flavour. The Ambrosia apples held their shape throughout the baking period, adding flavour to the pork and serving as a side (interior?) dish in their own right.
Served alongside apple mashed potatoes (yes, another apple brainstorm — recipe coming soon) and crisp green beans, this was an elegant and satisfying meal. It was certainly fit for a dinner party, but made a no-particular-occasion dinner special in its own right.
DISCLOSURE: The Ontario Apple Growers provided me with a box of Ambrosia apples from Martin’s Family Fruit Farm in Waterloo to cook with, photograph and post about on my blog. I received no compensation for this. All opinions are my own and my love for apples is genuine.
I’ll be publishing a series of posts featuring Ambrosia and other apples. All the links will be available here.
Caramelized Apple-Stuffed Roast Pork Loin with Apple Butter Glaze
My roast was very small (1.6 pounds) and the instructions are in accordance with that. Pre-heat the oven to 400℉. Cut four lengths of butcher’s string more than long enough to tie around the circumference of the roast.
Caramelized Apple Stuffing
Note, I wanted to rely on the apples for most of the sweetness in this stuffing, therefore only a modest amount of sugar is required for the caramel. Always be cautious when working with molten sugar, as it can cause a nasty burn if it splatters.
- 1 large Ambrosia apple (or other firm sweet apple that holds its shape well during baking), peeled, cored, sliced into 8ths and then cut into chunks
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch cinnamon
- several grindings fresh pepper
- leaves from several sprigs of fresh thyme
In a small skillet, heat the sugar over medium high heat until it melts. Stir with a spatula as it begins to caramelize, taking care to avoid it going up the sides of the skillet and burning. When it’s a deep caramel colour, turn the heat to low and carefully add the apples and stir. Their juices will mix with the melted sugar, and there may be some sizzling at first. Add the cinnamon, pepper and thyme, and cook the apples for about 10 minutes, turning from time to time so they’re coated lightly overall with the caramel. Remove from the heat and allow to cool somewhat before stuffing the roast.
Apple Butter Glaze
- 2 tbsp apple butter
- several grindings fresh pepper
- leaves from several springs of fresh thyme
Stir the apple butter, pepper and thyme together and set aside.
Preparing the Roast
- a 1.6 pound boneless pork loin roast
- 1 medium cooking onion
Slice the onion into four thick rounds and set in a square in the middle of the roasting pan.
Snip the strings binding the roast together and discard. Open it up as much as you can, and use a large knife to butterfly it until it lies flat.
Spoon the caramelized apples along the length of the roast, about halfway up, and carefully roll it together as best you can. Mine more or less met in the middle and didn’t overlap, probably since it was so small. Slide the lengths of butcher’s string under the roast with the two outside pieces no more than a half inch from each edge and the other two evenly spaced in-between. Tie the roast tightly and trim off any excess string.
Some of the apples will fall out during this process; just push them back in as best you can.
Set the roast in the roasting pan and use the back of a spoon or a basting brush to evenly apply the apple butter glaze to the top and sides. If one or two pieces of apple refuse to stay put inside the roast, no worry; they can just cook alongside in the pan. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan.
Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350℉ and continue to roast for about 40 minutes or so. Check a couple of times to see if more water needs to be added to prevent burning of the pan juices. When the roast is done the juices will run clear and the internal temperature will be 155℉ (I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure the proper level of doneness).
Remove from the oven and tent the roast loosely with foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing, to give the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the meat.