Ushering in the New Year brings forth the prospect of starting anew; the promise of a fresh start; an opportunity to set new goals or make resolutions for change. Or not. The choice is yours.
A New Year = New Possibilities.
For many, the New Year is kicked off with dishes that are said to bring luck and prosperity in the coming year. Now, I’m really not a superstitious sort by nature, but who couldn’t use a little extra luck every now and then? Especially when the luck can be brought around by eating some delicious foods? Kind of a no-brainer, if you ask me.
Foods that are rumored to bring luck are fish, peas & beans, grapes, greens, cake, and pork.
Fish has long been a staple of feasting, dating back to Middle Ages, due to the plentiful nature of it, and ease of preserving it for travel. Fish is plentiful, therefore eating fish on New Years will bring you plenty in the coming year.
Peas & Beans are said to be symbolic on money, due to their shapes resemblance to coins. When cooked, peas and beans swell, and are likened to growing wealth or financial gain. Black-eyed peas are the legume of choice in the Southern US; a practice that dates back to the Civil War. Seems that during the war, a town in Mississippi ran out of food while under attack. The residents soon found black-eyed peas, which kept them from starving, and have been considered lucky ever since.
Grapes have been consumed at the stroke of midnight for centuries, in many countries. One grape is eaten for each chime of the hour of midnight, correlating to each of the twelve months of the year. Sweet grapes can mean sweet and prosperous months. Sour grapes can mean a sour or challenging month. The goal is to eat all 12 grapes before the last stroke of midnight.
Greens are cooked before eaten to symbolize folded money. The theory is that the more greens that a family eats, the larger the family fortune in the coming year.
Cakes are traditionally baked with a nut or trinket inside. Whomever receives the piece of cake with the treasure inside is said to have good luck throughout the year. Psh! As if I need another reason to bake a cake!
Pork is a traditional New Years food because pigs symbolize prosperity, due to their habit of always rooting itself firmly to the ground before pushing and moving its way forward.
Foods to Avoid include lobster, because they walk backward, thus symbolizing backward momentum; and chicken because they scratch backward, symbolizing regret and dwelling in the past.
But let’s get back to the pork…
Specifically, Fruit Filled Pork Roast: Tender, boneless pork loin is stuffed with a medley of dried fruit, rubbed with spice, and slow roasted to perfection. That ought to kick of the New Year right!
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Set a rack inside a roasting pan and spray it with cooking spray; set it aside for later.
Rinse off a big-honkin’** boneless pork loin with cold water, and pat it dry.
**Pork loin doesn’t have to be of the big-honkin’ variety. The written recipe includes general guidelines for scaling the recipe up or down.
To assemble the spice rub, combine two tablespoons each of McCormick Pork Rub, and McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning blends. I’m currently
obsessed with in love witha big fan of these spice blends.
FYI–The Pork Rub is a chili powder, red pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, apple cider vinegar blend. The Montreal Steak is a kosher salt, cracked black pepper, dehydrated garlic, red pepper blend.
The fruit filling is primarily this blend of dried fruit: apples, apricots, and plums. You could toss in a few raisins, if you want to cover the Grapes As Good Luck Base, as well.
Peel several cloves of fresh garlic, and mince them with a knife. Be sure to set the spice rub next to the garlic on the cutting board before chopping it because it looks more appetizing than the garlic alone. Kidding! Kind of.
Add the minced garlic to the bowl with the dried fruit.
Give the filling a quick toss to combine; set it aside.
Take a sharp carving knife, and insert it into one end of the pork loin. Wiggle the knife back & forth a bit to make a pocket. If your pork loin is of the big-honkin’ (read: long) variety, then you’ll have to repeat this step on the other end, as well.
Insert the handle end of a wooden spoon into the pocket, wiggling around a bit to ensure that the pocket goes all the way through the roast.
Stuff all of the fruited filling into the pocket of the pork roast. Once I had all of the filling in there, I used the same wooden spoon handle to make sure that the filling went all the way through.
The twine will help to secure the filling inside of the roast.
Dump half of the spice rub onto the pork, and rub it in.
Repeat with the remaining spice rub on the other side of the pork roast. Try to coat all sides of the roast with the spices.
Place the roast onto the prepared roasting rack, and slow roast it in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours.
At that 90 minute mark, pour a quart of chicken stock over the roast.
Set a timer to baste the roast with the stock and pan juices every 20 minutes, until the roast is done.
This 6 1/2 pound monster-roast took an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish cooking to an internal temperature of 160° F.
Note: Measuring the degree of doneness with a meat thermometer in conjunction with the amount of time spent in the oven is critical for a juicy roast. Start checking the temp before basting the roast, and check each time you baste. Skipping the thermometer could could very well make the difference between a succulent roast and a dried-out leathery roast.
Let the roast rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before removing the twine and slicing it.
Slow Roasted, Fruit Filled Pork Loin
6 ½ pound lean, boneless pork loin roast
2 C. whole dried fruit medley (apples, apricots, & plums)
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbs. McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning (kosher salt, cracked black pepper, dehydrated garlic, red pepper blend)
2 Tbs. McCormick’s Pork Rub (chili powder, red pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, apple cider vinegar blend)
2 feet of butcher’s twine
4 C. low-sodium chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place a rack into a deep roasting pan, spray the rack with baking spray, and set aside.
- Mix the seasonings together in a small dish.
- Roughly chop the dried fruit, and then transfer it to a small bowl.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves, and stir it into the chopped fruit until distributed; set the filling aside.
- Grab a sharp carving knife to create a cavity in the center of the pork loin by inserting the knife in the center of one end of the pork, and wiggling it back & forth to create a 1-inch pocket.
- Remove the knife, turn the pork loin around, and repeat on the other end. After cuts are made, insert a wooden spoon into the newly created center cavity to ensure that it goes all the way through the pork loin.
- Use your fingers to grab the fruit filling, and stuff it inside the newly made cavity. Use the wooden spoon to make sure that the filling is distributed through the entire center of the pork loin.
- Criss-cross butcher’s twine around the pork loin at 1-inch intervals, tying at one end to secure.
- Sprinkle on the seasonings, and rub into the pork; coating on all sides.
- Place the prepared pork loin on the rack in the prepared roasting pan.
- Roast the pork for 1 ½ hours.
- Pour the chicken stock over the pork, and baste with a basting brush.
- Continue basting the pork over 20 minutes, until pork is done and registers 160 degrees F on a meat thermometer. (About an additional 1 hour 15 minutes.)
- Set roast onto a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes.
- Slice the roast in ½-inch thick slices. Serve with any remaining pan juices (if any.)
NOTES: Recipe can be sized up or down depending on needs. Basic formula per pound is: ¼ C. fruit filling, 1 clove of garlic, roughly 1/3 Tbs. seasonings, and ½ C. chicken stock. Cooking times will need to be adjusted, depending on weight of the roast. Slow roast pork for 30 minutes per pound, OR until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.