A festive Roast Pork with Apricot Stuffing & Brandy Gravy makes a stylish centerpiece for a feast. With dried apricots, toasted pecans, onion, mustard & fresh herbs rolled inside the butterflied pork & roasted until it’s juicy & browned then served with an easy & delicious brandy & apricot gravy, everyone will be asking for seconds.
Generally speaking, the pork in North America is lean. Too lean. And that nice layer of fat that would be present when you buy a roast, is mostly removed. If you’re buying farm-raised pork from a local hog farmer, chances are you’ll receive the succulent pork from years ago. If you’re buying the standard pork from a grocery store, it’ll be lean. My hopes are more of us have access to humanely raised pigs that are reasonably affordable.
Pork belly would be wonderful for this recipe & you’d not have to butterfly a center cut loin as in this recipe. I chose a center cut loin because if was what was available to me at the time. You’re going to need to ‘butterfly’ the loin. Easier than it sounds & something I explain in detail in the recipe. You’re going to make two cuts in the loin to open it up, it will look, as above, like three sections all still joined together.
Although stuffing, rolling & tying a piece of meat might not be something you attempt on a school night, the holiday season certainly warrants us making extra effort with our culinary offerings. And a gorgeous rolled piece of pork stands apart from the more traditional holiday fare.
The gravy for this recipe is simple but excellent. Brandy is my go-to booze for making gravy – be it poultry or pork. And a good chicken broth. Homemade is preferable & something that can be done weeks ahead of time & frozen. I make my broth in a slow cooker, get the recipe here. For what is a beautiful roast without good gravy?
Whether you’re feeding a little or a lot, the festive season is certainly the time to go the extra mile & make some special recipes, like this one, which require a little more time &/or patience. Take time to breathe & slow down this holiday season. At least try to. And for those times when you just can’t, be sure to keep the fridge stocked with your favorite wine. My best advice.
Roast Pork with Apricot Stuffing & Brandy Gravy
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 4.5 lb center cut pork loin roast approximate weight
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- butcher's twine/string
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup brandy
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup apricot jam
- pinch of salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) (I used a convection oven). Lightly grease wire rack and place inside roasting pan. Add a cup of water to pan.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until bubbling. Add onion & cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat.
- Add breadcrumbs, apricots, pecans, parsley, salt & pepper; stir until well combined.
- Place pork on cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut pork horizontally (knife will be parallel to the board) about 1 inch below the fat on top. Cut almost all the way through to the other side. Open pork out flat. Cut thick section in the same manner but now you’re cutting it to unfold in the opposite direction. So the opened fat top should be on your right, this will open up to your left. See diagram. You will have a rectangular piece in front of you that appears to have three creases. Cover with plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet (or other heavy, unbreakable object such as a cast iron pan) until it’s an even thickness & shape. If you’ve made the cuts correctly, there shouldn’t be too much pounding. Now, if this is all too much to follow, then cut the pork horizontally through the center almost through to the other side – this method will mean you can’t roll the pork but will have to simply fold the top over the bottom.
- Spread the mustard evenly over pork. Spread the stuffing over the mustard leaving a 1-inch border down the long fat side. Roll up pork firmly from short end without the fat. Have the seam facing down & the fat facing up. Carefully score the fat: using a sharp knife cut diagonal lines one way then the opposite way, like you’d do with a ham. Rub a little olive oil, salt & pepper over the pork.
- Secure pork with butcher’s twine tied at 1-inch (2.5cm) intervals. Place in prepared pan. Roast, uncovered, in preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat thermometer inserted into center of roast reads 150°F (65°C), do not overcook. Add a little extra water to the pan if the pan is over browning.
- Remove from oven and cover with foil. Reserve the pan drippings. Let pork stand for 20 minutes before cutting into 3/4 – 1-inch (2 – 2.5cm) thick slices. Serve with gravy.
- Heat reserved drippings in same pan over medium heat. Melt butter (if there’s enough pan drippings, omit butter). Add flour and cook for 30 seconds or until thickened. Add brandy carefully. You can flame it if you feel brave but be very careful & turn off vents when you do it.
- Gradually stir in broth. Add jam. Whisk to remove any lumps. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes thickened. Strain & add salt & pepper to taste.