One of my favorite ways to come up with a new dish is to combine elements from recipes across the web. Now that I have an iPad, my habit’s out of control.
One of my best go-to meals is pork loin or tenderloin, and now with the holidays coming, I’ve been trolling for dinner party ideas. As usual, one thing led to another: I started by thinking about trying a new spice-coat for extra flavor and a seasonal twist. And after some web surfing, plucking pieces of recipes from here and there, I ended up with my own invention: Apple-Fennel Pork Wellington.
First Stop: Chow
As I was looking on this recipe-and-food-talk site for a new pork spice-rub, something else caught my eye: Fennel-and-Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Loin. I love the flavor of fennel with apple, and in combination with prosciutto, it sounded heavenly. Before I knew it, the impressive image of the spiral stuffing got me thinking of an even more impressive dish—Wellington. It seemed perfect for the holidays.
I sorted through online recipes, gathering tips and tricks, and then I found this:
Second Stop: Food Network
On Food Network, Alton Brown’s pork tenderloin Wellington filled with dried apple made me think of using dried apple crumbs to substitute for the breadcrumbs in the Fennel-Prosciutto filling I’d found on Chow.
I had never made a Wellington, so I thought I might need some help with the technique. I decided to try YouTube, which has plenty of useful cooking-demonstration videos.
Third Stop: You Tube
Gordon Ramsey’s Beef Wellington demo does a good job of showing the Wellington step-by-step. But instead of his beef, I would let my old friend the pork loin stand in for its pricier cousin, and substitute the Chow recipe filling (with apples from the Alton Brown recipe) for Ramsey’s filling.
2-3 lb. pork loin
Salt & fresh ground pepper
3T unsalted butter
½ Spanish onion or ¼ large Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 medium bulb fennel, finely chopped
½ Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
2.5 oz dried apple rings, pulsed in food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs
½ tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder (do not omit; this is a key ingredient)
6-9 slices of prosciutto (if buying from the deli, have it sliced a little less thin than usual; this will make it easier to work with)
1 17oz frozen puff pastry dough (2 sheets), thawed (allow 40 minutes at room temp. and refrigerate if you’re not ready for it when it’s ready for you)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1T water) and pastry brush
Plastic wrap, parchment paper
Prepared pan: fit a baking sheet with a rack and lay parchment paper over the rack. With a skewer, punch 15-20 holes in the center of the parchment where the Wellington will bake. This will help keep the bottom crust from getting soggy if the juices run out.
- Season pork lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Quickly sear on all sides in just enough olive oil to coat a medium sauté pan. Remove from pan, pour off any remaining oil and fat, and set aside.
- Make fennel “duxelles”: Melt butter in same pan. Sauté onion, fennel and fresh apple for about 15 minutes, stirring in a dash of salt, few grinds of pepper, and the Five Spice Powder. Cook out as much moisture as possible. Set aside to cool.
- Cover your work area with a long piece of plastic wrap, and lay out prosciutto slices, overlapping slightly. You want to have a rectangle shape large enough to entirely wrap your pork loin, with about 3/4 inch extra all around.
- Stir the dried apple crumbs into the fennel mixture and spread evenly across the prosciutto. The recipe makes enough for a 3lb loin.
- Lay pork loin in the middle of your rectangle, and pull both sides of the plastic wrap very tightly up and over the sides to the top, tucking in the ends of the prosciutto as you go, to form a tight roll. You may have to do some patching on top with the fennel mixture and prosciutto to get the whole loin covered. Twist ends of plastic wrap very tightly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400⁰.
- Roll out thawed puff pastry dough on floured work surface, joining two pieces as you roll. Unroll pork loin from plastic wrap and place it on the dough as if you were wrapping a present, leaving enough dough all around to overlap slightly at the top and cover the sides. Cut off extra dough and reserve for decorations if desired. Brush egg wash around the edges of the dough and wrap the pork loin, sealing the top seam and ends. Carefully invert onto prepared pan so the seam side is down, and brush entire Wellington with egg wash. Snip or cut three air vents in the dough on top, and decorate with scraps of dough, brushing them with egg wash.
- Bake at 400⁰ for 20 minutes, reduce oven to 350⁰ and bake an additional 30 minutes for a 2lb. loin and 40 minutes for a 3lb. loin. Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer and take it out when it is 140⁰ or higher. Let rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, slice into thick slices and serve.
I’ve now made this twice for the family, and it really is not that difficult. With its light flaky pastry, make-the-house-smell-good filling and juicy meat, I think my new star is ready for show time.
Tell me if you plan to try this recipe – just add a comment to the comments box below!