The skies were angry that day, my friend. And blustery. Very blustery. Winnie-The-Pooh type blustery. Sometimes the seasons slide in the back door, barely noticeable in their arrival. Sometimes, as on this day, they ride in on dramatic, cloud formed chariots, boldly announcing their arrival. I don’t need a fridge full of pumpkin flavored beer or a pantry full of pumpkin spiced everything to tell me that the Fall has arrived. I’ve got that anticipated feeling of change that we sometimes need to feel renewed. It’s the decreased angle of the sun that no longer warms our days and evenings, or allows our plants and veggies to remain green and bountiful. The winds become crisp and chilled, freshening the air and providing a wayward sense of excitement. Fall brings a shift in grilling practices as well. The belly yearns for something a little more hearty, more fulfilling, more stick-to-your-ribs type of food. And it was no doubt time to give in to those feelings with a pork loin roast, smoked with pecan wood and stuffed with the flavors of Fall, apples, onions, garlic and pumpkin seeds.
My pork loin, a smallish piece, just under 2 pounds, was methodically, yet artfully sliced so that it unrolled in a quarter-inch pork sheet. Seasoned well with salt and pepper, it was set aside while we make that stuffing.
Borrowed and adapted from a recipe in the latest Food & Wine magazine, the stuffing mix includes a mixture of chopped onions, minced garlic, raw and hulled pumpkin seeds, pumpernickel croutons, and a smattering of parsley. This is in addition to olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a couple of whole, fresh apples, and salt and pepper.
I laid a large cast iron pan directly over the high heat, hardwood fire, and the process began in almost a ritualistic fashion.
A goodly splash of olive oil was added, all for the purpose of getting the onions and garlic nicely cooked and fragrant.
Once those onion and garlic bits were satisfactory, the diced apple cubes are allowed to join the party, tossed on top and enthusiastically mixed and pan cooked.
After the mix is thoroughly warmed, transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add in the pumpkin seeds, parsley, and croutons.
Looks pretty dang good, doesn’t it? Yeah, there’s our stuffing mix for our pork loin. Now make like da Vinci and paint that stuffing mix all over the thinly slice pork. Edge to edge, uniform thickness, all-over flavor.
I rolled the pork loin up slowly, tucking and rolling my way to a nice tight, stuffed pork roll that I coud then tie off and keep intact.
Lay the stuffed pork back in the cast iron pan, and position this beauty on the indirect side of the grill, at about 350 – 375 degrees
While the pork is beginning its magical transformation, grab a couple of fresh apples (I had Fuji) core and cut them in half, and toss in a bowl with equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar. If you see onions in mine, well, I had a few diced onions left and decided to throw them in and use them. No biggie.
After the pork had about twenty minutes on the grill, add those apple halves and rotate the pan. Cover it up and go grab a white wine or apple flavored whiskey. That’s what I did, and it was enjoyed.
When the pork reaches 140 degrees internal (about 1 hour 15 minutes on this windy, cool day), it’s ready to be pulled off the grill.
I left it in the pan, releasing all of that smoky, anticipated goodness into our kitchen. A mixture of potatoes, both yukon gold and sweet, along with red onions were prepared to complement this beauty.
Carving the pork revealed the swirling stuffing inside, deliciously and magically flavoring the pork from the inside out. The roasted apples were soft, but not mushy, able to be sliced and eaten with the pork and potatoes. Delicious!
If fall hasn’t made an appearance in your neck of the woods yet, grill this stuffed pork loin and you’ll be taken to crisp air, cool breezes, and color changing landscapes. And there’s not a darn thing wrong with that…
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired