Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spiral Sliced Stuffed Pork Loin

If cooking was poker, then I went "all in" with this dish last night.

It was either going to be a huge success or a sloppy disaster. No playing it safe here.

I must have been out of my mind a few weeks ago because I accepted Joanne's (Eats Well With Others) Recipe Impossible Challenge sponsored by Marx Foods. Here is the challenge:

You are going to be sent a top secret mystery package from Marx Foods that is filled with 8 ingredients. You are going to pair two of these ingredients with winter squash to create a dish that I’m going to be so floored by that I’m going to want to eat it in mass amounts until I reach my orange-complexioned goal. It can be sweet, it can be savory. Basically, it can be whatever you want as long as it’s original, includes two of the mystery top secret ingredients, and features winter squash.

Here's the problem. I have never tasted or prepared winter squash.

To scatter my brain even more, Marx Foods sent me this diverse set of ingredients, giving me way too many options. Amazing things like coconut sugar, espresso salt, and fennel pollen.

Alexis and I batted ideas around like we were playing ping pong. This is what we came up with and to my amazement, it worked and I found out I like butternut squash. The plan was to have a spicy dry rub (no sugar) on the outside to counter the sweetness of the filling.

Spiral Sliced Pork Loin Stuffed with Butternut Squash

source: NibbleMeThis

1 pork loin roast

Dry Rub
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp pasilla negro chilies, ground
1/4 tsp aji panca chilies, ground
2 tsp paprika (I used my home made stash)

1/2 butternut squash
1/2 cup marscapone cheese
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
4 tsp maple sugar

First order of business was fire roasting the butternut squash. I fired the grill to 350f-375f with an indirect heat set up. We put the squash open side down and then added 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup apple juice.

We cooked them covered for about 40 minutes. Uncovered them, flipped them over and cooked uncovered another 20-30 minutes, until softened.

While that was going on, I made the rub. Since I knew the stuffing was going to be super sweet, I wanted the rub to be sugar free and have a little heat so I ground up about an 1 1/2 inch piece of the aji and pasilla chilies from Marx Foods.

These are mild, fruity chilies and have a rich smoky, almost chocolate-ish aroma to them when ground. I can't wait to try them with that espresso salt in a steak rub. Post forthcoming on that.

After the butternut squash (you are only using one of the halves, I just cooked both) is cooked and cooled, scoop out the pulp and blend with the filling ingredients. The "pinch" of nutmeg was about 4 passes of a whole nutmeg on a microplane.

Spiral slice the pork loin and then pound it even thinner with a mallet. If you aren't comfortable with that, you could ask your butcher to do it or just butterfly it, but it is worth the effort.

Season the outside with about 1/2 of the dry rub.

Flip and smear the filling on the other side.

Roll up, jelly roll style. This will make a mess but leave it there.

Tie up your little piggy and season it with a few more pinches of the dry rub. See, messy. But don't clean it off. It's part of my madness....err....planned design.

Sear the roast over a 500f grill (direct heat) for about 1 minute per side.

Remove back to your messy cutting board.

I didn't plan this ahead but I saw the "collateral filling" all over the cutting board and the extra seasoning in it, I thought about how I do beef roasts with a horseradish crust sometimes. So now smear the extra filling on the outside of the roast. (It was at this point I knew this was going to either rock or suck.)

I set the grill back to indirect heat at 350f and roasted it until it hit an internal temp of 140f.

Slice it thin and because it is 10 minutes until 10pm, eat it straight off of the cutting board. See how the extra filling crust baked on nicely? No more mess!

I really didn't know what to expect but each of us gave this one two thumbs up. I'm not an expert by any means and we were making a lot of this up as we went along. But the idea of the dry rub to balance the sweet filling resulted in a pork roast that I am proud of.

Joanne, thanks for forcing me to try butternut squash! It was not what I thought (and that's a great thing). Thanks to Marx Foods for the excellent ingredient pack. I will be trying out the beef rub idea on some ribeyes this weekend. (Check out their website, they have an incredible collection of products available in bulk.)


  1. Impressive. Very impressive! I love the idea of roasting the squash on the grill, giving it that smokey flavor.

  2. This looks incredible Chris! I love food that looks as good as it tastes. Congrats on living up to the challenge :)

  3. See -- this is why you need to audition for "Chopped". It'd be an easy ten grand for you.

  4. Your recipes always have me drooling all over my keyboard :).
    I've got an Egg (which I use mostly for baking sourdough bread), but the trouble is I simply don't know many of your ingredients...
    I think a chili is what we call a pepper, but aji panca?? And I don't think they sell maple sugar here in Holland either.
    I'd never heard of spiral slicing, but thanks to the photos I think I've got it figured out.
    One way or another I'll have to try this recipe, because it looks absolutely delicious!

  5. Pam:

    I really wasn't excited about it so I was glad to be surprised in the end.

    Are you kidding, I'd rather have my eyelashes plucked one by one.

    Mrs. J
    Yes, a chili is what you would call a pepper. Both the chilies I used are dried chilies. If you can get chili powder, you could just substitute a 1/2 tsp of that. You can substitute maple syrup for the sugar but maybe cut the quantity down to 2-3 tsp.

  6. Very nice. It would never have occurred to me to stuff pork with squash, but then I've come to expect this sort of thing from the master of rolled up meat... ;)

  7. clap...clap...clap...clap... This is so impressive Chris! I think my favorite part is the smearing the "mess" over the loin before it's final cooking. I bet that really crusted into a wonderful flavor. I really want to try a butterflied loin and soon. It's been on my list of things to cook for a few months, right along side your horseradish gravy. I've never heard of the peppers used in this.

  8. Chris, I've promised myself not to eat things straight off of the cutting board anymore. But this looks to good to pass up.

  9. I have to to admit that part of my goal with this was to coerce some non-squash addicts into the bnut squash club. And I'm so glad that you were one of them! The sweet mixed with the spicy here sounds downright amazing. Really a perfect use of winter squash.

  10. You're like the Funk and Wagnalls of Cooking for me! Never heard of spiral slicing a pork roast before - fascinating! I LOVED everything about this post - will definitely try this when the fam descends upon us in three weeks. My mister was in Knoxville over the weekend, brought me home a brochure for a Kamado Joe Grill, which I assume is the same as a BGE?? I'm in love with the red color...maybe Santa just might bring me one after all! xo, Nan

  11. I love when you try something new and you actually like it!! So much better then putting work into something and realizing it's ick!! :) The pork looks amazing...I can just imagine how yummy it was!!

  12. Delighted that you have discovered the joys of winter squash. The challenge looks awesome, as do your results.

  13. Hmm...wish I'd seen this back in the summer when I had an abundance of those squash in my backyard. Fabulous idea!

  14. You did an excellent job with the challenge being that you never had this kind of squash before! The sweet and spicy mix of flavors sound excellent.

  15. Wow, you guys rocked this!!! I would be absolutely terrible at this kind of challenge. I'm so useless at coming up with my own recipes. Some of us have it, some of us don't. I don't, lol. This sounds like a lot of fun (as long as I'm not the one chosen to have the fun). Looking forward to more of your challenges!

  16. Had your own session of "Chopped" didn't ya? ;) Well, I think that looks awesome. Great job!! And thanks for the link too.

  17. Super creative and the pairing of winter squash and pork is one of my favs. Love everything about this. Especially the bonus crust! Sorry have been a bit MIA but this #PFB2010 thing is kicking my butt! GREG

  18. Wow, seriously your first time with winter squash? I love what you've done with sounds fabulous!

  19. Nicely done my friend - the pork looks fantastic. I can't believe you had never tried butternut squash before, it's so tasty!

  20. It is obvious that you rose to the challenge. This is a great squash and pork dish. Winter squashes are truly amazing. Summer squashes are dull in comparison.

  21. Butternut squash is a fave. Love to see people play with it. Great idea here! Pork loves anything sweet, so why not squash.

  22. Is tie up your little piggy pillow talk?

    This really looks fantastic. Such creativity.

  23. OK, you win. I was tempted to vote for myself, but I totally love this dish! I need to make it this weekend!

  24. Chris - I think you and Alexis did a great job coming up with this recipe. I love the way you stuffed and sliced the pork. It definitely has a big visual appeal! I bet this was a delicious recipe since pork does so well with sweet flavors. Great job!

  25. Congratulations! I just read that you won!


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