Cider Brined Pork Roast with Roasted Apples and Onions

In Denmark we have more pigs than people, about 14 million pigs and only 5 ½ million Danes. We export a great deal but we still have lots of pork. Here is an interesting and fun way to make a pork roast. It  is like the Italien porchetta, helstegt gris, only not so many herbs and spices.  Of course, we use Danish ingredients like apples and apple cider.  I have used Danish  dry cured ham which has the same quality as the Italian prosciutto and the Spanish Serrano. If you can’t find Danish dry cued ham, either one of these can be used.

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Cider Brined Pork Roast with Roasted Apples and Baked Onions   Serves 8 as a main course

Filling: 2 tbsp butter, 1 cup minced onion, 2 tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, 1 lb. ground pork

Pork: 1 trimmed 2½ – 3 lb. pork loin, 1tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped coarsely, 4 oz. sliced Danish dry cured ham or proscioutto, 5 bay leaves, 8 small apples, halved and cored, 3 tbsp. butter, divided, 2 tbsp. rapeseed oil or olive oil, 1 cup apple cider, ½ cup chicken stock

Roasted onions: 4 large white onions, unpeeled, 4 large red onions, unpeeled, 8 small shallots, unpeeled, kosher

To make the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion: cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly golden, about 6 minutes Stir in thyme; cook for 1 minute. Stir in 2 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool completely. Add ground pork and stir to combine.

To make the roast, place pork on a work surface with short end facing you. Holding a long, thin sharp knife parallel  to work surface and be beginning along one side, cut ½ inch above underside og roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet, until the entire loin is flat. Using a meat mallet, pound to an even thickness.

Season with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Scatter parsley over meat. Spread filling on top of parsley leaving a 1 inch border. Roll pork into a tight cylinder Wrap one layer of dry cured ham around the roast. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1½ inch intervals.* Tuck bay leaves under twine.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

To cook roast, place apples in a pan. Melt 1 tbsp. butter with oil in a large skillet. Brown pork on all sides and place in pan next to apples. Add cider and ½ cup stock to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits. Pour mixture into roasting pan. Roast pork until an instant-read  thermometer inserted into the center of loin reads 145°F, 1 hour. .

To make the onions, cut white onions, red onions and shallots almost in half, leaving root ends intact. Pry each open slightly to expose cut. side. Place white and red onions root side down (if they won’t stand up, slice the bottom so it is flat) on a baking sheet next to the pork loin  after the pork has been in the oven 1 hour. Roast onions 40 minutes or until they are just beginning to soften and brown. Remove pork. It should be 160°F and  still slightly pink. Let roast rest at least  20 minutes. Add the shallots to baking pan and roast until onions and shallots are soft, 20-30 minutes while the roast is resting. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, transfer roast and apples to a platter. Pour juices into a pan and add chicken stock and cook 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk in  remaining 2 tbsp. butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce; slice pork. Serve sauce, apples and onions alongside sliced pork.

*Loop the free end of a ball of string round the end of the meat and tie a knot. Without cutting the string, make successive loops by pulling the string as you go. Sucure the parcel by bring the string under the entire length of the meat and knotting the free end.

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