Monday, November 7, 2011

Bleu Cheese Crusted Stuffed Roast Loin of Pork - with Photo Instructions

Spanish tapas are small plates or snacks traditionally served in wine bars. The most commonly repeated bit of history is that they originated in the form of a small slice of bread placed over a glass of sherry to keep fruit flies from going in for a drink. Since the word tapas comes from the verb tapar meaning "to cover" this rather makes sense. Over time either diners or bar owners started putting slices of salty Spanish ham on top of the bread. The ham appeased the diners hunger, but also made them thirsty for more sherry! As with most gastronomic efforts the results only got more elaborate as time went on eventually resulting in the creative and delectable dishes we see today. Some classic tapas include olives, Manchego cheese, Serrano ham, chorizo, anchovies, and Spanish style tortillas (omelets usually containing sliced potatoes and other ingredients).

Going to tapas restaurants with friends is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. The sangria and conversation flow easily as we sample one delicious small plate after another. My good friend Jon and I have spent many a happy evening together at Solea or CuchiCuchi, two local tapas restaurants. When my friend Nahir informed me that she could make a good paella we came up with the idea for a Spanish themed cooking night.

I am blessed with many fabulous foodie friends. Our final menu included:

Spanish meat and cheese tray with marinated olives and caramelized walnuts
Lamb stuffed dates with a picante roasted red pepper sauce
Brussel sprout and fennel salad with brown butter-parmesan dressing
Chorizo stuffed mushrooms
Brie en croute stuffed with bacon and walnuts
Bleu cheese crusted pork loin stuffed with prunes and onions
Orange and red onion salad with olives
Chorizo Paella
Fresh baby spinach dressed with a sherry and orange olive oil vinaigrette
Sweet potato muffins with dried cranberries
Guava and cream cheese bombs
Sangria. Lots and lots of sangria

With all of the ham, chorizo, pork and bacon present we joked about calling the party The Great Pork Dinner of 2011 instead!

Lamb stuffed dates in picante pepper sauce
Chorizo paella

One of my favorite dishes when I go out for tapas is lomito al cabrales, pork loin smothered in a Spanish bleu cheese sauce. Although that idea was the inspiration for this pork loin the finished product really isn't anything similar to lomito al cabrales, except of course for the pork loin and cheese. I wanted to create a sweet-salty pork dish that would be reminiscent of the idea of the original sweet sherry and salty ham tapar, but would be a show-stopper for a dinner party. This definitely fit the bill.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Pork Loin ~ serves 8-10
3lb pork loin, butterflied
2 cups bleu cheese
1 cup prunes
1 large onion
1 cup panko, approximately
1.25 cup sweet Spanish sherry, divided (such as Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial)
1 T prepared demi-glace
2 tsp fresh rosemary
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

Notes before you start: This is definitely a dinner party type dish. You can make the stuffing one day ahead and refrigerate it to save time. I used Williams-Sonoma demi-glace de veau as a time saver but you can certainly make your own.  In addition to the above ingredients you will need kitchen twine to truss the loin. You can either butterfly the loin yourself if you're comfortable, or you can ask your butcher to butterfly it for you. Unfortunately many meat counter employees aren't trained butchers so if you're nervous about entrusting your final cut to someone else watch a couple of videos online and take the plunge!

Finely chop prunes and soak in 3/4 cup of the sherry. Set aside.

Finely slice onion. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and saute onion until beginning to caramelize. Add 1/2 a cup of the bleu cheese, allowing it to melt and combine completely until smooth. Add prunes and soaking liquid along with the demi-glace. Remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Sprinkle with panko, a little at a time, combining until panko absorbs all the liquid and is just moistened, neither soggy nor dry. Mixture should be about the consistency of sticky cookie dough. Let cool (or refrigerate overnight).

Preheat oven to 350º F. Place a roasting pan with a rack in the oven to heat up.

Trim silverskin from pork loin. To do this slide the tip of a flexible boning knife just under the silverskin, almost like pushing a needle through a piece of fabric. Steadily slide the knife, with the blade slightly angled upward, down the loin to remove the silverskin.

If you haven't already, butterfly the loin. Spread out the butterflied loin, cover with plastic wrap, and flatten with a mallet just until the loin is about an even thickness across. Season lightly with salt (the bleu cheese is very salty) and season liberally with fresh ground pepper.
Spread the prune mixture evenly over the pork leaving at least a half-inch of space on all sides.

Roll the pork loin back up tightly and take a long piece of kitchen twine to truss the loin. To truss a loin start by tying the twine tightly around one end, like a bracelet.
Take the twine and pull it about an inch away from the first piece, straight down the middle of the loin. Keeping the tension, wrap the twine halfway around your finger to create a 90º angle.
Wrap the twine around and under the loin, pulling back up to your finger (above). Loop the long end under the piece wrapped around your finger and pull it taut.
When you get to the end flip the loin over and slip the long end of the twine back under the loops you made back up to the start and tie off.
Rub the loin with olive oil and season with fresh ground pepper. Remove the rack from the oven and place the loin on it (careful not to burn yourself). Roast loin for about 30 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 145º F internal temperature. Remove and let rest for 8-15 minutes while you preheat the broiler so the loin isn't scorching hot to the touch (if you don't have a broiler turn the heat up to about 500º F).  Remember to cut off the twine before you top with the bleu cheese (which, I uh, forgot to do...) Baste the loin with the remaining sherry and pack the remaining bleu cheese on top of the loin in a high, narrow strip.
Put the loin under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt and slightly turn golden.Voila!

Let rest 5 minutes. Slice loin into 1/4"+ slices and serve. This dish is so rich, and we were having so many other delicious dishes at the Spanish dinner, that I didn't serve it with a sauce. If you're making this for a dinner party another option would be to make a simple pan gravy with stock and serve the pork with a salad of baby spinach with a simple vinaigrette of 2 parts orange olive oil (or olive oil + orange zest) to one part Spanish sherry with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.


  1. I love pork and am always looking for new recipes..Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is great way to prepare pork. The filling ingredients has some great flavor and the topper of Blue cheese-yum! This dish will definitely impress. thanks for sharing!

  3. We love tapas. Such a fun way to spend an evening.

    Your pork loin looks amazing. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Oh man, what a gorgeous dish! But honestly, I am just transfixed by that melted bleu cheese dripping down... how about I come over for dinner! ;)

  5. I love the combination of rosemary and blue cheese. This is gorgeous. I plan to make this during the holidays.

  6. Delicious roast pork, great tapas feast!

  7. Oh-my-gosh! That pork tenderloin looks to die for!! And the bleu cheese? Just over-the-top amazing! Wow! :) And the whole menu sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing, God Bless!

  8. Wow! Love the step by step pictures! the filling is packed with flavors and the topping of blue cheese is just perfect!

  9. What a gorgeous roast! I love the how-tos and your dinner party sounds like an amazing feast =)

  10. This sounds incredible! Great recipe. The photo of the melted cheese looks delicious. xx

  11. I love bleu cheese! This looks scrumptious! Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  12. Wow.. I've seen many beautiful and different recipes in this blog! Pork loin looks delicious!!

  13. I love stuffed pork like this and the blue cheese topping is wonderful! Buzzed it.

  14. What a fun idea to have a Spanish night! And oh my, this stuffed pork loin looks absolutely out of this world! So elegant. Thank you for the step by step photos on this one, really helpful.

  15. Your tapas night looks fantastic. Will be making this pork very soon.


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