Fig Stuffed Loin
While I was walking through Costco the other day, I noticed that they had some beautiful whole pork loins. Not on sale, but then it seems like meat is never on sale anywhere anymore. I put the nicest one in the cart. When I got home, I cut it into 3 pieces and froze them for later.
I have been thinking a lot lately about trying a loin stuffed with figs. One of my all-time favorite marinades is Tuscan style—thick, sweet and savory, fig and onion based. So I figured why not give it a try in a stuffed loin.
I had to wing it as far as the fig stuffing went, so I simply combined a fig pie recipe and a fig sauce recipe. Now it would have been great to have been able to use fresh figs, but aside from being extremely rare in Alberta, they are also “sign over your First Born Child” expensive!! So I had to settle for dried figs.
To make the fig stuffing, I combined the following two recipes.
Fig Pie Recipe:
375 grams dried figs, chopped and the hard stalk removed
1 ¾ cups of water
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ tsp Allspice
½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
Put everything into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer for approx. 30 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, until figs become soft and glossy and the liquid reduces and becomes syrupy.
Fig Sauce Recipe:
1 Tsp salted butter
¼ cup chopped red onion
6 fresh ripe Black Mission Figs
1 Tsp honey
¼ cup red wine (since I quit drinking, I had to resort to cooking wine)
2 Tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp ground thyme
Melt the butter in a saucepan over med-high heat. Add onions and saute (sweat) until soft and translucent. Add the figs and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in honey, wine, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced and thickened. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.
So. I doubled and combined the two recipes to make the stuffing—I like an overabundance of filling. Since Miss Linda wouldn’t let me sign over her First Born, I had to use dried figs. At about 10.5 grams of dried figs to one fresh fig, I added 36 dried figs to the mixture in the saucepan. I continued to reduce the mixture until it had become a very thick syrup—I wanted it to stay in the loin roll. As usual, I estimated the number of figs I would need on the fat side. I could easily have cut back to 24 figs and still had plenty.
Thursday morning I trimmed most of the fat off the thawed piece of loin and proceeded to butterfly the loin. Apparently I need a lot more practice butterflying a loin. It wasn’t exactly a sculptured piece of art—kinda looked like I had used a machete on it. However…..since all the hacking would be concealed inside the rolled loin, I decided I could live with it. After rinsing and patting the meat dry, I applied a generous coating of Teddy’s Happy Hog Butt Rub to both sided of the meat, rolled it tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for the night.
Later that night, while looking through the fridge for a snack, I found my container of Rub. Now how could that be—I used it all on the loin. After digging the rub container out of the dishwasher, I ran my finger around the interior and had a taste. PANIC SET IN!!!!!! Although it looked identical to my rub, what I had liberally applied to the loin was the sugar and cinnamon mix that I use on my breakfast bananas. I grabbed the loin and headed to the sink—“rinse it off!!” was my only thought. Thankfully, before I got it under the tap, it dawned on me that my rub also contained sugar and cinnamon—just not quite as much. That settled me down and, after thinking it through, I simply unrolled the loin and applied a generous coating of the real rub. After all, the fig filling was sweet and savory. No problem. I hoped.
Friday afternoon I took the loin out of the fridge, unrolled it and ladled on the fig stuffing mixture—LOTS of fig stuffing mixture—and rolled the loin back up. Naturally, I still hadn’t managed to buy any butcher’s twine, so once again I had to resort to toothpicks. LOTS of toothpicks—there was fig stuffing trying to escape everywhere!!!!!
Leaving the loin on the rack in the kitchen, I turned the MES on and set it to 240*. While it was getting up to temperature, I filled the AMNPS with a 50/50 mix of Pecan and Apple pellets and fired it up.
When the MES was up to temp, the loin went in. After 3 ½ hours at 240* the IT was sitting nicely at 140*, so I pulled the loin out, tented it, and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
Finally, it was time to eat—Miss Linda had arrived home--so I sliced the loin The sliced meat looked beautiful, the almost black fig mixture oozing out of the pink loin.
Dinner was served with sides of Jasmine rice and corn. The excess fig filling mixture was served warm, to be added if so desired.
The meat was great. Moist, almost juicy, and tender beyond belief. The fig stuffing paired wonderfully with the loin and was thoroughly enjoyed. Our (Miss Linda and me) only complaint was that the fig mixture just wasn’t bold enough. It had a fine subtle flavor that went perfectly with the pork, but that was the problem. Both Miss Linda and I like robust, “in your face” flavors in our food. Subtle is pretty much wasted on us. I’m not sure what I could do to add more ------well, everything I guess------to the fig stuffing, so any and all suggestions will be gratefully received. Don’t be shy (or subtle).
Overall, excluding the subtleness of the stuffing, the Fig Stuffed Loin was a great success. We both really enjoyed the combination of flavors-- fig and pork. A success in spite of my application of the wrong “rub”.
Thanks for looking