To twine is devine

Inspired by a dish at Hogan’s Hideaway and driven by the need to use up some feta cheese, I tied together some ingredients (literally) in two pork tenderloins and topped it with a creamy cheese sauce. I have another confession to make which might disqualify me as a foodie for some. Up until this meal, I had never used cooking twine. It was easy to work with and the end result looked and tasted just as devine as the dish which inspired me in the first place.

For the pork you will need:

  • 2 pork tenderloins of similar size (you can get a club pack of four tenderloins at Wegmans for a steal)
  • ½ to ¾ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, removed from stem and roughly chopped
  • 5-6 slices bacon
  • One green apple
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • Cooking twine

For the feta cheese cream sauce you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • About 1 cup of feta cheese
  • About ½ cup of milk

Marinate the pork loins a day or two before you cook. Place them in a Ziploc bag or sealed container with the vinegar and rosemary. You’ll need enough vinegar to almost cover the meat.

Begin by partially baking the bacon in the oven at 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put the slices of bacon on it. Flip the bacon after about 5 to 8 minutes. Cook it until it begins to get crispy, but remember, it will cook up even more inside the pork loins. When the bacon is almost cooked, put it on a plate covered in a paper towel to remove the excess grease.

Remove the pork loins from the marinade and dispose of the excess juices. Butterfly both pork loins lengthwise. On a flat, clean surface, lay the two tenderloin side-by-side, with them slightly overlapping in the middle. Your goal is to create a channel that you can place the stuffing into. When you wrap the tenderloins together, you want them to be able to contain the ingredients.

Chop your apple up into bite sized slices. Crumble or chop your bacon into bite sized pieces.  Place the apples, dried cranberries and bacon into the center of the two tenderloins. Flip half of the tenderloin over the top of the ingredients, kind of like as if it were a quesadilla.

Next you will wrap the tenderloin with the twine. Carefully tie the string around one end of the tenderloin. Now carefully run the string around the tenderloin in a spiral shape. To do this, barely lift the tenderloin up to slip the twine underneath it. Avoiding allowing too much of the fruit and bacon on the inside escape, continue weaving the twine over and under the tenderloin until the entire thing is wrapped up fairly tightly. Tie off the string at the end of the tenderloin.

Bake the stuffed tenderloin for about 45 minutes or until the thickest part of the meat wrap has reached a temperature of 145 degrees. I cooked the pork in a baking pan with a roasting rack but you can use a baking sheet, metal cake pan or oven-safe glass cake pan. Remember, the meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after it is removed from the oven.

Meanwhile, about ten minutes before the pork is finished cooking, mix together the butter and flour in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter and flour are combined, begin adding the feta cheese and milk gradually. You may not need the entire cup of feta cheese depending on how strong of a flavor you want, or you may need a little more or less milk depending on how thick you want your sauce. Just keep adding the milk and feta, stirring constantly and tasting to obtain the right ratio of milk and cheese to create a creamy cheese sauce with a consistency and flavor of your liking.

Remove the twine from the tenderloin and slice it carefully so as not to lose the shape or insides. Serve over mashed potatoes and top with the cheese sauce.

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