Celebration Pork Rack Stuffed with Dried Fruits
The Heirloom Book Company in Charleston, South Carolina, sells rare antiquarian cookbooks like first editions of Escoffier. I was there flipping through a book on royal court cuisine for lords and barons, reading recipes for the most extravagant dishes you can imagine. One of these was a bone-in Frenched whole pork loin stuffed with apples, dates, and duck liver. That sounded pretty awesome to me. I adapted the idea here but replaced the duck liver with bacon fat and threw in a few more dried fruits. If you have duck liver, by all means use it, but it’s not a requisite. Serve this roast with your favorite mead, honey cakes, and frosted lemons. It’s perfect for Christmas, Easter, or any other royal feast.
1 loaf sliced white bread, crusts removed
1 large onion
2 tablespoons bacon fat
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 (6-bone) center-cut Frenched pork rack, about 4 pounds
2 egg whites
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup packed mixed, diced dried fruit (apricots, Craisins, currants, golden raisins)
1/2 cup Ham Broth or Chicken Stock
Heat the oven to 325°F. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes; you should have about 2 1/2 cups cubes. Toast the bread cubes on a baking sheet until crispy, about 8 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Finely dice 1/2 cup of onion and sauté with 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. You should have about 1/4 cup sautéed onions. (You’ll use the remaining onion later.)
Combine 2 teaspoons of the salt, the ginger, cinnamon, and mace in a small bowl.
Lay the pork rack bone side down on your cutting board and carefully slice down, across the bones toward the meat, leaving the meat intact in one piece; you’re basically unrolling and slicing the meat to a 1-inch thickness. When you get to the eye, continue slicing about an inch in until the eye is about 2 inches in diameter, and then cut it out. Remove the pork eye and finely chop it.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the chopped pork eye, egg whites, cream, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and process to a smooth, sticky paste, about 2 minutes. Add the sautéed onions and sage and pulse just to combine. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the toasted cubed bread and dried fruit. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon bacon fat in the skillet for later use.
Spray a roasting pan and roasting rack with nonstick spray. Sprinkle the pork rack and meat with the seasoning mix, coating both sides. Starting just where the meat starts on the bones and using about half the stuffing mix, spread a thin but complete layer of the stuffing over the rack and meat. Lightly brush with some of the melted bacon fat. Starting at the meat end of the rack, gently and lightly roll the meat back onto the bones, being careful not to squish the stuffing out the ends.
Using butcher’s twine, tie the rack, wrapping between the bones and around the end. Brush the rack on all sides with some of the melted bacon fat.
Brush a deep 2-cup baking dish with some of the melted bacon fat; place the remaining stuffing in the dish and brush the top with bacon fat; bake until cooked to an internal temperature of 150°F, about 30 minutes.
Coarsely chop the remaining onion, spread in the center of the prepared roasting pan under the roasting rack, and place the pork roast bone side down on the roasting rack, over the onions. Roast to an internal temperature of 145°F, about 1 hour. Remove the roasting rack from the pan and place over a plate to catch any juices that run off the pork as it cools.
Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat, add the ham broth, and, using a wooden spoon, stir the pan drippings and onion to deglaze the pan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Strain the sauce and discard the solids.
Let the pork rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Stir any accumulated juices into the sauce. Slice the rack into 1-bone chops and serve with the pan sauce and a scoop of the baked stuffing on the side.