Land of Leftovers

When my grocery store has a big sale on boneless pork loin roasts, I tend to go hog wild -- pardon the pun -- and get as much as my freezer will tolerate and my family can consume within about six months. Why's that? Because boneless pork loin roasts, in all their weighty glory, are among the most versatile and healthy cuts of pork available. You can get a whole or half loin and find yourself with a series of smaller roasts, thick-cut chops, thin pieces perfect for cutlets and some of the most tender meat available for everything from stir-fries to BBQ.

So, in the tradition of saving you time and money and with a little twist, this month we're looking at how a boneless pork loin roast can easily be transformed into three different meals with three very different feels.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Keep those creative juices flowing!

Spinach and Garlic Stuffed Pork Roast

Double-butterflying a portion of a boneless pork loin roast allows you to fill it with a delicious stuffing and roll it back up for roasting. The result is a fork-tender roast with the added flavor of a pesto-inspired stuffing in every bite.
  • 2 c. tightly packed spinach
  • 1 c. tighty packed cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (3 lb.) boneless pork loin roast

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine the first 5 ingredients (spinach through salt) and process until a thick paste is formed. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife cut down through the center of the roast and fold it open like a book. Then make two additional cuts starting from the center of the roast and ending near, but not at, the end of the roast and unfold it to one long strip. You will then want to pound the meat to a uniform 1-inch thickness. This will allow you to roll the roast back up once it's stuffed.

Using a spoon spread the stuffing evenly across the roast and roll it up, jellyroll style. Tie the roast together every 2 inches and place it in a roasting pan. For an illustrated guide to double-butterflying and stuffing the roast, click here.

Roast the meat, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees -- the cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the roast, how tightly its wrapped and the size and shape of the roasting pan. Once it's done, remove it to a cutting board and wrap it with aluminum foil. Allow the roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: Varies depending on factors described above

Sweet Java BBQ'd Pork Chops

This recipe makes a big batch of the BBQ sauce for these chops and enough to keep in a tightly sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to two months. It's a great way to use that last cup of coffee!
  • 1 1/2 c. strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 c. ketchup
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 2 T. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 3 dried chiles
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 4 pork loin chops, cut 1" thick

To make the sauce, combine the first 8 ingredients (coffee through dried chiles) in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly -- 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow the sauce to cool. Remove the dried chiles and add Tabasco sauce if desired.

Place the pork loin chops in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag and add 1 cup of the prepared sauce. Save the remaining sauce in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two months. (It's also great with chicken!) Allow the pork chops to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Prepare the grill by preheating it to medium-high heat. Remove the chops from the shallow dish or bag and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chops until done (at least 160 degrees). Tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings plus 3 cups additional sauce
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes, plus marinating time

Asian-Style Pork Cutlets

Pork cutlets cook quickly, so you can enjoy them easily in the middle of the week when your schedule doesn't allow for more time to make dinner. Serve them hot with some of the pan sauce poured over steamed rice.
  • 8 pork loin sections, each cut 1/2" thick
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 c. bread crumbs
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 2 c. sliced onion
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. mirin (or sherry)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • Thinly sliced scallions (optional)

Place the pork loin sections between sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound to a uniform thickness of 1/4".

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs and the bread crumbs into two other shallow dishes. Dredge the cutlets first in the flour mixture, then the eggs and finally the bread crumbs. Transfer them to a wire wrack suspended over a baking sheet to rest.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in an electric skillet. Add the onion and saute until clear and soft, but not browned. Remove the onion to a plate.

Cook the cutlets in the skillet, browning on both sides until they are cooked through -- about 7 minutes. Transfer them to a clean wire wrack suspended over a baking sheet.

Return the onions to the skillet. Add the chicken broth, mirin, soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened. Return the cutlets to the pan and heat through. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes