Pork-Loin with Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Butter, and Sweet, Smoky Red Wine Sauce

Today I am celebrating the birthday of a dear friend and recycling a wonderfully savory recipe that I discovered this fall.  I first made Jane Kirby and Kay Chun’s recipe for “Yucatán-Style Pork” in October (along with Orange Tres Leches Cake) for another birthday celebration, and I fell in love with the tender pork-loin and the intensely flavorful and aromatic sauce.  You can view the original recipe here.

The first time that I made this pork-loin, the only thing that I changed was to add 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar to the smoky sauce before serving.  I wanted to cut back on the spiciness of the chili powder, since my family prefers milder heat levels.

In November, I did another version of the original recipe with a red wine sauce (instead of apple juice) and I added raisins and dried cranberries (instead of prunes) and a few diced onions.  I also spooned a generous amount of pumpkin butter with port over the roast, and again, I sweetened the sauce with a few spoonfuls of brown sugar.  The result was amazing!

I love how easy it is to switch up this recipe and incorporate whatever fruits or flavors are in season.  The pork comes out of the oven coated in a rich, reddish sauce and tender as can be.  I wasn’t a huge fan of pork-loin before I tried this recipe, but I am now!

The pork is even delicious for the next few days.  I like to make pork sandwiches with thick slices of pork-loin topped with a spoonful of fruity sauce.  I encourage you to try my adapted recipe or the original version, perhaps you’ll come up with yet another great flavor combo!

Pork-Loin with Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Butter, and Sweet, Smoky Red Wine Sauce

◊◊◊  This recipe is adapted from “Yucatán-Style Pork” by Jane Kirby and Kay Chun and appeared in Real Simple in February 2002.  An online version of the recipe (which I used as the basis for my cooking and adaptations) can be found on Myrecipes.com.  A link to the website appears at the beginning of this post.

a 3 1/2 to 4 lb. pork-loin roast
1 small box of raisins (purple or golden)
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion
3-4 large spoonfuls of pumpkin butter (with port, if you can find it)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick or sprinkling of ground cinnamon
2 turns of the pan of red wine (use a good red wine that you enjoy drinking because the flavor will add to the sauce, I used a Merlot)
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar

large Dutch oven
baking sheet covered with aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Begin by making slits all over the pork-loin roast with a small knife.  Stuff each slit with raisins and cranberries.  If you have extra raisins or cranberries, keep them for the sauce.  I think that dried apricots would be delicious too – and you could use spoonfuls of apricot jam in place of the pumpkin butter.

I used pumpkin butter for my adaptation of the original recipe, but red currant jam would be another option, or apricot preserves. Yum.

Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven until it just begins to ripple.  When you place the pork-loin roast in the Dutch oven, it should sizzle loudly.  Brown the meat on all sides, being careful to turn the roast with the tongs.  Don’t worry if a few of the raisins and cranberries fall out — they will flavor the sauce.

Once the pork is browned, remove it from the Dutch oven and place it on the baking sheet while you prepare the sauce.

Here is the pork loin once it has been browned. See all the dried fruit in there?

Halve the large onion.  Dice one half and put it in the Dutch oven with the minced garlic.  Grate the remainder of the onion over the Dutch oven and allow juices to drip into the pan.  Cook the onion and garlic until they are soft and nearly translucent.

Add the spices: the chili powder, salt, oregano, and cinnamon.  Stir.

Add the pumpkin butter, cider vinegar and red wine, allowing the liquid to de-glaze the pan.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan and into the sauce.

This is the sauce, bubbling away. Look at the rich color!

Use the tongs to move the pork-loin from the baking sheet into the Dutch oven.  Discard the used foil.  Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil.  Put on the cover, and place in the oven.

Cook the pork-loin for 1 1/2 hours, basting 3-4 times.  It is important to remember that the basting is the key to delicious flavor in this dish.  Remove the cover, and continue to cook the pork-loin for 30 minutes more.

Remove the HOT Dutch oven from the oven and place the pork-loin on the baking sheet to rest.  Remove the cinnamon stick (if using) and set the sauce aside (not over heat) for 10 minutes.  Skim any fat or oil that rises to the surface of the sauce with a spoon and discard it.

Next, add the brown sugar to the sauce, stirring to break up any clumps.  Boil the sauce over high heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens and reduces.  The consistency of the sauce will be chunky like jam from the raisins, cranberries, and onions and have a deep, brownish-red color.

This pork loin looks lovely on a plate with the deeply colorful and spicy glaze/crust.

Spoon the sauce into a gravy boat and serve with the pork-loin.  You can plate the pork and slice it at the table with a sharp or serrated knife, or slice the pork prior to serving after it has rested and the juices have distributed.

I like to serve this pork with mashed or scalloped potatoes and a green vegetable like asparagus or green beans.  A small roll is nice to sop up the flavorful sauce.