Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin with Cranberries

I pulled this recipe from the March 2009 issue of Real Simple. As usual, I tweaked it and the results were a sweet and savory delight. It looks complicated but is surprisingly easy to assemble. I just need to remember to have a very sharp knife, because mine didn't look so great after I cut it into slices. The version below is my tweaked version. The photo belongs to Real Simple.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin with Cranberries

1 2-pound piece boneless pork loin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Black pepper
1/2 cup Craisins, soaked in water or juice and chopped
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
8 slices bacon
1 tbsp cranberry-jalapeno jelly
1 tsp red wine vinegar

1. Heat oven to 350. Season the pork with the allspice and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries parsley, and mustard. Spread evenly over the pork. Lay the bacon slices crosswise over the pork, overlapping them slightly and tucking the ends underneath. Roast for 45 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, combine the jelly and vinegar. Brush over the bacon and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer registers 150°; F, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Substitution Suggestions: The original recipe called for cherries. I used Craisins soaked in -- get this -- raspberry Crystal Light. It was great! The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley instead of dried. Either will work. Whole grain mustard is a must. You can use any jelly variety. I went with cranberry-jalapeno because I had it and I wanted the extra little kick. Currant jelly will work just as well.

Lessons Learned: I absolutely love what the jelly did to the bacon. It candied it, which helped crisp the bacon and add another layer of flavor. I may try baking bacon on its own and candying it with the cranberry jelly. (By the way, I love baking my bacon!)
There was quite a bit of grease from the bacon. Perhaps it could be undercooked and blotted before wrapping it around the pork. But, the pork really did require the full cooking time plus a little bit to get it to temperature. The bacon was just crisping at that point.
You don't necessarily need to soak the Craisins in juice, but they are pretty tart and I wanted something a little sweeter, which is why I soaked them in juice before packing them onto the tenderloin. Any fruit juice will do, I suppose. I liked the raspberry Crystal Light, even if it does sound a little bizarre.

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