Ever dream about bringing an impressive roast to the holiday table with equally impressive ease? Now you can. Stuffing and preparing the pork a day ahead leaves you free to entertain and makes the meat especially flavorful as well. Bacon wrapped around the roast keeps it moist as it cooks. Prunes and dried apricots simmered in Port bring a fruity but not overly sweet intensity to the pork and its sauce.
- 1/4 lb California dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 lb pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup ruby Port
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter
- 1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 (6-lb) bone-in pork loin roast (10 ribs), frenched, at room temperature 1 hour
- 9 or 10 bacon slices
For port sauce
- 1/2 cup ruby Port
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups water, divided
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot
- Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.
- Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.
Stuff and roast pork:
- Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
- Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.
- Season roast with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and put in a large flameproof roasting pan. Wrap with bacon, between rib bones, tucking ends under roast. Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast (do not touch bone or stuffing) registers 155°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours total.
- Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160°F; meat will be slightly pink.)
- Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp fat. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.
- Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. Whisk together arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.
- Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Carve roast into chops by cutting between ribs, then serve with sauce.
- Stuffing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
- Uncooked roast improves in flavor if stuffed, seasoned, and wrapped with bacon 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before roasting.
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Start to finish time: 3 1/2 hours
- Serves 8