As Christmas fast approaches and families start to gather to celebrate the season. I start to think about traditions. Traditions are so important to the holidays; they remind us who we are and where we came from. In my house a lot of traditions revolve around food and meals together. Of course every year is a new opportunity to start a tradition but it is the ones we have always done that mean the most. Christmas morning at my house is a relaxed affair. Instead of preparing a big breakfast (we favor a large early dinner instead) we have blueberry muffins. Our tradition of muffins started when we moved to North Carolina in 1997. I cannot remember how this tradition got started; I make them from a box. It has to be from the box; it has to be Duncan Hines Blueberry Streusel muffins. Do not suggest that we make our Christmas muffins from scratch… or try a different flavor. Sometimes traditions are not to be fully understood just abided.
Christmas is my favorite time of year and I get as giddy as a school girl! I put up all the decorations and love dancing around the house to Christmas music. (Well only for the first week or so, then the repetitive nature of Christmas music on the radio starts to drive me insane.) Hanging the lights and decorating the tree are truly a pleasure. Displaying my snowman collection is a small joy in life that I love.
Traditionally for Christmas Eve dinner we have a pork loin. My favorite recipe for pork loin is the Apple Stuffed Pork Loin. I will also provide you with a Glaze that could be used on a pork loin (as I will show you in the pictures) or could be easily used on a ham. Pork Loins are often avoided by people because they seem complicated. Really they are quite easy it is the prep work that can get complicated. Once prepped you just put the loin in the oven and let it cook. Easy… and then you can prepare other things or hang out with the family.
My Apple Stuffed Pork Loin is another recipe I just threw together one evening. I surprise myself sometimes with the outcome of some of these thrown together meals.
Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
*all measurements are approximate*
1 Pork Loin – butterflied
2 small medium apples, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1-3 chopped garlic cloves (based on your taste for garlic)
1 ½ cups brown sugar packed
Juice of one lemon
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Sage to taste
Paprika to taste
Nutmeg to taste
1 ½ bacon bits
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees; line a roasting pan with foil and lightly grease with Pam spray.
In large pan sauté the onion until browned, add garlic then apples season with sage, paprika, and nutmeg. Add juice of one lemon cover and let apples soften. Stir in brown sugar and bacon bits let simmer until just starting to caramelize. Stir in Panko bread crumbs; add just enough water to moisten mixture.
Spread the mixture between the butterflied pork loin halves. Fold the loin together. Make sure that the fatty layer of the loin is on top. Score the fat on top with a knife in a diamond pattern. Tie the loin securely with butcher’s twine and then rub with kosher salt amount you use is based on your taste. Pack any remaining stuffing around the meat. Cook in pre heated oven for 90 minutes until the meat reaches 180 degrees in the middle. Cover loin with foil after the first 30 minutes of cooking to hold the moisture in. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. (Allows the juices to settle) Slice and serve, with extra stuffing on top.
TIP: Always make sure to grease the foiled pan before using and grease the sheet of foil you use to cover the loin.
Brown Sugar Glaze for Ham or for Pork Loins
Below is a picture of when I prepared this using a pork loin
1 cup (roughly packed) Brown sugar
¼ - ½ cup Dijon mustard (based on your taste)
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar.
Mix all ingredients in sauce pan. Make sure any lumps of brown sugar are broken up. Heat over medium heat until smooth and bubbles slightly; remove from heat. Let stand five minutes. During that time you can get your meat prepared. Then use glaze over ham or pork loin and follow cooking directions for the meat you are using. Remember to baste! I like to slice apples and cook them with the meat and glaze.