Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pork Stuffed Pork Wrapped in Pork and Roasted Cauliflower Paired with 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir

In my last post “Pork Stuffed Pork Wrapped in Pork” I shared some photographs of the ingredients that made up last night’s pairing.  As promised, I am back to offer you the blow-by-blow along with recipes for the menu.  Golf Buddy Steve brought the 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir, and we were joined by Photography Buddy John.

Stuffed Pork Loin Roasted Cauliflower with 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir-1

The Food

The pork stuffed pork wrapped in pork is a creation of my wife, Chef Sue.  For this meal, I made some modifications to Sue’s approach which resulted in some wonderful surprises, and “some opportunities for improvement.”  From the flavor perspective, my adaptation was a great success.  This comes from my use of home made sausage rather than pre-made sausage.  This gave me some control over the flavors.  My intent was to heat to balance the sweetness of the pork (particularly the bacon) and the fruit glaze that was added during the last 30 minutes in the oven.  This part worked brilliantly with one exception.  I had intended to add apple and orange to the sausage (see the photos of ingredients from “Pork Stuffed Pork Wrapped in Pork”), but somehow failed to add these important acidic and sweet components.  This was not a critical flaw, but it would have been better had I paid closer attention.

Pork Stuffed Pork Ingredients-2

The second improvement applies to the texture.  The home made pork sausage texture was not far from the pork loin texture after roasting.  Gratefully, there was a nice textural difference with the bacon.  The dish could have been improved tremendously by drawing a further distinction between the stuffing and the pork loin.  So here is my recommendation (ok, not mine – this comes from Chef Sue):  If you attempt this recipe, I would follow the directions for making the sausage.  I would then prepare some seasoned bread stuffing (make it from scratch with toasted stale bread, or Pepperidge Farm, your choice) then combine the sausage and bread stuffing with 1/3 sausage by volume and 2/3 stuffing.  Also, when you hydrate the bread stuffing, make sure you prepare it with butter (1 tablespoon per cup of dry bread crumbs) along with your broth or water – the sweetness of the butter will be a noteworthy added flavor.  The addition of the bread stuffing to the sausage will make for a layer a softer texture and therefore contrast nicely with the pork loin and the bacon.

Stuffed Pork Loin Roasted Cauliflower with 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir-2

Like the lack of apple and orange, the textural improvement was not a critical flaw, just another opportunity to make a wonderful meal even better.

With respect to flavors, the stuffed pork loin is a matter of balance; fat balanced with the heat of the sausage, the sweetness of the bacon and fruit glaze in balance with the heat in the sausage.  The dominant taste components included sweet, umami, and piquance.  The roasted cauliflower and onion was a nice mild supporting actor for the pork.  Flavors from the cauliflower and onion were a very pleasant nuttiness that was enhanced by the roasting.  The texture was tender yet firm. 

Roasted Cauliflower and Onion

Finally, I highly recommend you try the recipe for the roasted cauliflower.  It is simple, features straight forward flavors and may win over that person in the house who is not a fan of Cauliflower (we saw exactly this happen with Photography Buddy John).

The Wine

Golf Buddy Steve brought a 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir.  This wine has gained some notoriety through sales at Trader Joe’s.  A quick search of the web revealed our experience with this wine was consistent with all but a few who were not impressed.  Our judges for the evening enjoyed the 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir, and agreed that the $10 price tag makes this a great value.  This Pinot Noir easily stands up to Pinots for which I have paid $20 to 30.

2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir

From a tasting perspective, the 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir is a surprisingly nice balance of earth and fruit (dark cherry, raspberry, and a hint of plum).  The fruit in this medium body wine is also well balanced with the acid which makes it food friendly.  With a medium body, this wine is able to keep pace with some stronger flavors on your dish.

The Pairing

The pairing worked well and was certainly one of those cases where the sum of the two was better than the individual components.  The best combination was a proportionally balanced small bight that included the sausage stuffing, the pork loin and a bit of bacon followed by a taste of the 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir.  This became particularly evident when Chef Sue challenged us to taste with just the pork loin and the wine, and then with the stuffing and the wine.  What a tremendous difference.  The Caretaker Pinot Noir with the pork loin was nothing more than ok.  However, combining the spiciness of the sausage with the wine sent sparks flying; the fruit from the wine quickly rushed to the front of the stage and bowed hand in hand with the spice.  There was also a subtle sense that the earthiness was helping with this balance while blending nicely with the sweet nutty and smoke flavors in the bacon.

Stuffed Pork Loin Roasted Cauliflower with 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir

The conclusion from this little experiment  was that the dominant spiciness from the sausage stuffing was balanced nicely by the dark fruit flavors in the 2009 Caretaker Pinot Noir.  And therefore the pairing was successful.  Anther good choice might be a Zinfandel (dark fruit flavors like this Pinot Noir, and complimentary spice).

Final Words

So once again, you read that I could have done things better.  I’m ok with this.  It clearly demonstrates you are getting the real deal on this blog.  The comments come from our guests, and this is a one take episode (unless I decide to try it again) and the chips fall into place with no Jedi tricks.  I promise that even if I completely blow something, I will let you know, and let you know why (as a warning to avoid my mistakes).  Fortunately this pairing was a success.  My helpful critics were very kind in offering suggestions for improvement.  Honestly, if it were not for the fact that we were intentionally sitting around the table wearing our critic hats, it is unlikely anyone would have said anything other than “delicious.”

Finally, after some further experimentation this week, I am ever more satisfied with my new do-it-yourself lighting rig.  I was happy with the photography before, but am very pleased with the improvements resulting from the addition of nicely diffused light.  Check in at Craig Corl Photography this week to learn more about the construction of my lighting rig and my experimentation to get the most out of this rig.


Home Made Pork Sausage

Pork Stuffed Pork Ingredients-1


  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 finely diced apple
  • 1 finely diced orange
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 oz. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes


Plug in your Kitchen Aid and find the meat grinder in the back on the bottom shelf just to the right of the oven. I know, you don't use it often, but now I am giving you a reason! Run the meat though the grinder - just once to keep it on the coarser side.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. This is more sausage than you need, especially if you take my recommendation to combine this with bread stuffing (1/3 sausage and 2/3 bread stuffing by volume). On the bright side, this sausage is so tasty you will want it for breakfast, made into a patty and grilled like a burger, or just about anything else you can imagine. You can use the excess over the next week, or stick it in the freezer for later use.

Stuffed Pork Loin

Stuffed Pork Loin


  • 2 to 3 pound pork loin
  • 6 pieces of extra thick hickory smoked bacon (or any bacon you want)
  • 1/2 cup fruit preserves (cherry, raspberry, or blackberry work best)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or any fruit juice hanging around in the fridge

Stuffed Pork Loin-1


Preheat your oven to 350.

Open your pork loin by beginning a cut about 1/2 inch thick, then sort of spiral around until you run out of loin.  The ideas is to transform a cylindrical piece of meat into something flat that we can wrap around the stuffing.  Trust me when I tell you that you will not be happy if you decide to just open it with a cut like a hot dog bun.

Add the sausage (or sausage stuffing) and roll up.  Wrap in bacon and hold the whole thing in place by spearing some toothpicks through the bacon.  Place in the oven on a sheet pan for one hour.

Heat the preserves until thinned (a minute in the microwave will do the trick), and combine with the fruit juice.  After one hour in the oven remove the pork from the oven, and poor 1/2 of the fruit preserve/juice mixture evenly over the top.  Put the pork back in the oven and repeat in 15 minutes.  Put the pork back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until the internal temp has reached 160 degrees F.  Remove from the oven, cover in foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Stuffed Pork Loin-3

Roasted Cauliflower and Onions


  • 1 large head of cauliflower cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 large onion sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Cauliflower and Onion-2


Combine all in ingredients in a bowl and toss to evenly coat the cauliflower and onions.  Place your happily bathed veggies on a sheet pan and send off to a preheated oven (400 degrees F) for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tender.  For the menu described in this post, the oven was doing some double duty – at 350 degrees F, it took about 30 minutes for the cauliflower to show some nicely browning edges.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a wonderful meal and a great evening. Chef Sue's homemade rolls were delicious as well with the vinegar an virgin olive oil dip.