Savory Cornbread Stuffed Pork Roast with Apple Bourbon Sauce

I had gotten a great deal on pork loin roasts at one of those bulk stores, not the kind with membership. In order to get such an amazing price, you had to buy the entire roast, about 3 feet long.  So when I got home from the store, I cut it into 1 lb. roasts, bagged them and tossed them in the freezer.  

So here I am, I had thawed one of the pork roasts for dinner and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. Anything I thought of I didn’t have something else I would need like spinach, mushrooms, dried fruit, and so on.  Finally the light bulb goes off, at 4 o’clock, much later than I usually start especially when taking notes and photographs.

I decided to double butterfly cut the pork so I could form a stuffed log of pork that would cut into pinwheels, which always look great for presentation.  The double butterfly cut turns any cylindrical piece of meat into a flat square or rectangle, while it may seem intimidating it really isn’t that hard to do but you will need a good quality sharp knife. To double butterfly you basically cut the roast lengthwise in the middle but don’t cut all the way through. Then you take the top portion and cut it from the opposite side, again not going all the way through and repeat for the bottom portion. The best way to visualize it is to think of a “W”, that first cut being the middle ^ of the letter and the top and bottom cuts being the V part of letter.  That’s the easiest way for me to remember the direction without ending up with some thin cut pork scraps. After the cuts and the meat is laid flat, I cover with a piece of plastic wrap and use a pounder just to flatten out any uneven parts, usually the joints.

The filling for my pork, I decided on my southern cornbread dressing that I always make at Thanksgiving. It starts with healthy cornbread that is cooled and crumbled.  To that I add a dozen woven wheat crackers, they do sell them in a variety of flavors, I used plain but if you feel adventurous, go for it!  Then I add sea salt, cracked pepper, rubbed sage and dried thyme.  Diced onion and chopped walnuts get added to the mixture then an egg for a binding agent and some chicken stock to moisten.  It all gets mixed until all well combined.

On the work surface, place some kitchen twine, about an inch apart and for this particular roast I only needed three, you want to lay these strings under the flattened pork, make sure you cut them long enough to wrap around once the pork is filled.  I usually go overboard by about a foot because I’ve cut them too short before and they are easier to tie with longer ends and you can trim them.  Add the cornbread mixture on top, about an inch thick and using your hands, press down to the edges evenly.  To roll, you will start at at the short end and roll it onto itself and keep rolling to the end.  Pull the strings taught and tie into a knot, trimming any excess twine.                                                                                                                                                                                                
Place the roast, seam side down, in a roasting pan big enough to fit that has been treated with nonstick cooking spray.  I know that this picture looks as if I have a lot of oil in it but actually I had rinsed it with water first and didn’t dry it then added the spray. I had a hungry son that was pestering me, “How long before dinner?”

The stuffed roast, is vented with aluminum foil, to retain moisture, and placed in a preheated oven and baked for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into middle of roast registers 165 degrees. The aluminum foil can be removed the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking to get a crustier outside if you prefer.

Allow the roast to rest 5 to 10 minutes, carefully cut strings and remove them from roast then slice into six equal pinwheels.  

While the pork is roasting I make the sauce. Originally I was going to do a peach bourbon sauce but the bag of frozen peaches I had in the freezer was actually mangos so I went with apples, which work great with sage, pork and thyme.  I core and thinly slice the apples, it is best to use an apple like a Golden Delicious since it is softer and doesn’t require a long cooking time to soften.  I add to it a tablespoon of grass fed cow butter and saute until the apples slightly brown.  I add chicken stock, a little agave nectar for sweetness and bourbon.  If you prefer not to have bourbon, you can just add more chicken stock. The sauce simmers about 15 to 20 minutes until apples are soft.  I increase the heat to boil and add a cornstarch slurry to thicken.

The sliced pinwheels are placed on serving platter or plate and the sauce with apples is spooned over the top and served.

 

 

 

 

Savory Cornbread Stuffed Pork Roast with Apple Bourbon Sauce
Serves 6
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
1 hr 45 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
1 hr 45 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. pork loin roast, preferably white meat and trimmed of fat
For the Cornbread in Filling
  1. 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal plus additional for dusting
  2. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  4. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  6. 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  7. nonstick cooking spray
For the Filling
  1. Prepared cornbread
  2. 12 woven wheat crackers
  3. 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  4. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  5. 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  6. 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  7. 1/2 cup onion, diced
  8. 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  9. 1 egg
  10. 1/2 cup chicken stock
For the Sauce
  1. 2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced (any apple but Granny Smith)
  2. 1 tablespoon grass fed cow butter
  3. 1 cup chicken stock
  4. 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  5. 1-1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
  6. 1/4 cup bourbon
  7. 2 tsp. cornstarch
  8. 1 tablespoon water
Additional Ingredients/Items
  1. nonstick cooking spray
  2. cooking twine
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For the Cornbread in Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray 8" x 8" baking pan with nonstick spray then dust with cornmeal, set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients for the cornbread, whisk in buttermilk and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan then place in preheated oven.
  5. Cook cornbread for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
For Filling
  1. Crumble cooked and cooled cornbread into large bowl.
  2. Add a dozen woven wheat crackers, such as a Triscuit, crumble into cornbread mixture.
  3. Add sage, sea salt, thyme, pepper, onions and walnuts, mix into crumbled cornbread mixture.
  4. Add egg and chicken broth and mix until well combined and moist.
For Pork Roast
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Place pork loin roast on work surface.
  3. Using a sharp knife cut the roast lengthwise in the middle but don’t cut all the way through, leave a little over an inch in tact.
  4. Keep roast together, don't open it up.
  5. Make another cut, mid way above your first cut but in the opposite direction so that the hinges holding the pork together are at opposite ends.
  6. Now repeat the step above but on the bottom, again opposite of the cut in the middle. This will be in a W pattern so it will unfold and open up.
  7. Open up the cut roast and cover with plastic wrap, use a pounder and flatten out any uneven parts and flatten out the seams (hinges).
  8. Cut cooking twine long enough to wrap around roast, keep in mind it will be larger when stuffed. You will need enough so that you have it tied about every inch.
  9. Place twine on work surface, lay open roast on twine, lengthwise or long side, then set aside.
  10. *If any of the above is confusing, please look above on this recipe post for additional description and photos.
  11. Place cornbread mixture evenly over pork, about an inch thick and spread to all the edges. You may have leftover stuffing which you can put in a ramekin and bake for a dressing on the side or to use for another recipe.
  12. Begin rolling up pork with filling beginning with the short end, this will be a stout roast rather than long and skinny. Keep rolling until you reach the end.
  13. Pull up twine and and tie securely, trimming any excess twine.
  14. Treat roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray and place roast in pan, seam side down.
  15. Vent with aluminum foil and place in oven. Roast for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165 degrees or higher.
  16. Allow roast to rest 5 to 10 minutes then slice into 6 equal pinwheels.
  17. Place on serving platter or serving plates and spoon sauce and apples over top.
For the Sauce
  1. While the pork is roasting you can make the sauce.
  2. Add apple slices and butter to medium skillet over medium heat, cook until apples slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, pepper, agave and bourbon, reduce to simmer and allow to cook 15 minutes or until apples are soft.
  4. Increase heat to high.
  5. In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water.
  6. Once sauce reaches a boil, add the cornstarch and water slurry and whisk rapidly. Continue cooking and whisking until sauce thickens.
  7. Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. Total cooking time does not include sauce, since sauce is being cooked while pork is roasting.
Calories
322 cal
Fat
10 g
Protein
23 g
Carbs
31 g
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Healthy Southern Cooking http://healthysoutherncooking.com/

 

 

 

 

Apple & Red Onion Slaw

I created this slaw to go on top of pulled pork but it works good with any sort of barbecue or picnic and would be good topped on many different sandwiches, fish tacos and hot dogs.  Not only does this slaw have a burst of great flavors; sweet, tart and savory but a great crunch.

This slaw starts out with shredded green cabbage and shredded carrots.  If you are short for time or if you prefer, you can use the already shredded cabbage mix in the produce department, most also have red cabbage as well and that will just add more color to this slaw.


Thinly sliced red onion and matchstick size julienned apples are added to the cabbage mix.  As far as apples go, you can use sweet or tart or a mix of both.  For presentation purposes I would use an apple with reddish skin but it is totally up to you or what you have on hand.

The slaw is then tossed with a simple French vinaigrette which is olive oil, apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard and a tad bit agave nectar.

Toss and serve as a side or as a condiment!

 

Apple & Red Onion Slaw
Serves 8
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  2. 1 cup carrots, shredded
  3. 1/3 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  4. 3 medium apples, julienned matchstick size
For the Dressing
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  4. 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, red onions and apples, loosely toss to mix.
  2. Cover and keep cabbage mix cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  3. In a small bowl or cruet, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. As far as the agave nectar goes, depends on how sweet you would like it. I suggest adding one tablespoon and mix then sample and see if you need more.
  4. Pour dressing over slaw and toss.
  5. Serve cool.
Notes
  1. Nutrition facts are based on 2 tablespoons of agave nectar.
Calories
119 cal
Fat
7 g
Protein
1 g
Carbs
14 g
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Chicken & Biscuit Hand Pies with White Gravy

Growing up both my mama and grammy made a lot of recipes that they found on the side of soup cans and boxes.  Many were quick and easy fixes, others inexpensive meals and some became family favorites.

One of the recipes that really stood out to me was one my mama would make with refrigerator rolls that was filled with chicken and bran cereal.  Considering that was probably around 40 years ago, I am not sure where she came across the recipe. So I tried to recreate it from memory.

To start, I knew I needed it make it healthier than store bought refrigerator rolls so I opted to make my whole wheat biscuits and roll them thin and cut them a little larger than regular biscuits.

The filling has shredded chicken that I boiled in chicken broth for nearly 2 hours over a high simmer until it was falling apart.  I shred the chicken and add diced onions, bran cereal which adds extra fiber, chopped walnuts and seasonings including sage and thyme.

I take the biscuit rounds and moisten the edges with water then add the filling and fold over the biscuit and seal the edges.  They then go onto a greased baking sheet and into the oven.

While the hand pies are baking, I make the white gravy by first forming a roux with some canola oil and whole wheat flour.  I slowly whisk in milk, chicken bouillon for some added flavor and fresh cracked black peppercorns.  I continue to whisk the gravy until it thickens.


Once the hand pies are removed from the oven and slightly cooled, I place them on a serving platter and spoon the white gravy over the top and garnish with some additional bran cereal, walnuts and fresh parsley.

These can be made larger if you would prefer, like a calzone and served for dinner.  In the smaller size they can still be served as a meal and make a great appetizer which you can serve the gravy on the side. They would also be great at brunch as well.

 

 

Chicken & Biscuit Hand Pies with White Gravy
Serves 10
Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
55 min
For the Filling
  1. 1-1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  2. 1/2 cup bran cereal
  3. 1/4 cup onion, diced
  4. 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  5. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  6. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
  8. 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
For the Biscuits
  1. 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1-1/2 cups self rising flour
  3. 1 tsp. sea salt
  4. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  5. 4 tablespoons grass fed cow butter
  6. 1-1/3 cups lowfat buttermilk
  7. nonstick cooking spray
  8. extra flour for dusting
For the White Gravy
  1. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  2. 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  3. 2 cups whole milk
  4. 1 tsp. chicken bouillon (powdered or base)
  5. 1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
Other ingredients
  1. nonstick cooking spray
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. additional bran cereal, walnuts and parsley for garnish.
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For the Filling
  1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the filling, set aside.
For the Biscuits Hand Pies
  1. In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients, you can do this by hand or can do in standing mixer with paddle attachment.
  2. Gradually add buttermilk a 1/3 of a cup at a time and work into dry ingredients, still using the paddle attachment to standing mixer at low speed or manually with your hands.
  3. Keep mixing until dough forms a ball and it is not sticky to the touch, add extra whole wheat flour a tablespoon at a time if needed.
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to just over 1/4" thick.
  5. Using a large biscuit cutter or glass about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and cut 10 biscuits.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Lay biscuit rounds on work surface.
  8. Using fingers and spread water onto edges of biscuit.
  9. Spoon chicken mixture onto one half of the biscuit, stretch and pull other half of biscuit over filling and press edges to seal.
  10. Place hand pie onto baking sheet treated with cooking spray.
  11. Repeat until all biscuits are stuffed.
  12. Spray tops of biscuits with cooking spray.
  13. Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes until golden brown.
For the White Gravy
  1. While the hand pies are baking make the gravy.
  2. Combine oil and flour in skillet over medium heat to form a roux.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk.
  4. Add chicken bouillon and cracked black pepper, continue to whisk continuously until thickened. Once thickened, remove from heat.
  5. Spoon gravy over hand pies, garnish with some additional bran cereal, chopped walnuts and parsley if desired.
  6. If serving as an appetizer you can alternatively serve the gravy on the side for dipping.
Notes
  1. For making shredded chicken, one large boneless and skinless chicken bread low boiled for over an hour on the stove, cooled can be shredded with your hands or two forks. It is important to cook it low and slow to make it super tender to shred.
Calories
231 cal
Fat
10 g
Protein
13 g
Carbs
34 g
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Healthy Southern Cooking http://healthysoutherncooking.com/

Tamale Casserole

I have never been a big fan of casseroles.  I guess because most of the ones I had were blah, tasteless and quite frankly, looked disgusting.  Many that I had encountered should have been labeled, “Casserole Surprise” or “Leftover Surprise”.  They had everything but the kitchen sink.

This casserole is one that my mama use to make when I was growing up, it had some basic, simple ingredients so I spiced it up with some different ingredients and spices and also chose to use a leaner meat and add some extra protein with beans.

Aside from the great flavor in this casserole, it is prepped and cooked all in the same pan.  If you don’t have an ovenproof pan, you can transfer to a casserole dish to bake. It starts with ground turkey that I brown and crumble.  You could substitute any ground meat that you have on hand. To that, onion and garlic are added.  Spices are added like chili powder, cumin and oregano.  Once the ground turkey mixture is fragrant from the aromatics and spices, I add in diced tomatoes and chilies.  You can substitute canned petite diced tomatoes for fresh, you can also used canned diced green chilies. Another option would be 2 cans of diced tomatoes and chilies all in one can, such as Rotel.  Corn, black beans, cilantro, cornmeal with baking powder are all added and mixed well.  This mixture is patted down flat and then goes into the oven to bake.  While the turkey is cooked through, this step allows the cornmeal to absorb the liquids and expand and become more like the texture of steamed masa throughout the casserole.

The casserole comes out of the oven and shredded cheese is added to the top.  I prefer a pepper Jack cheese but if you want a milder flavor, Jack can be substituted.  The casserole is returned to the hot oven, to allow the cheese to melt.

To serve, simply spoon out onto serving plates and dig in.

You can serve with additional toppings like sliced jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole or salsa.

This casserole can be made ahead of time, covered and placed into the fridge until you are ready to bake it.

 

 

Tamale Casserole
Serves 8
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. ground turkey, 93% lean
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 tsp. sea salt
  5. 3 tablespoons chili powder
  6. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  7. 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  8. 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  9. 2 cups tomatoes, diced with juices
  10. 1/2 cup green chilies, diced
  11. 1-1/2 cups whole kernel corn
  12. 1-1/2 cups black beans
  13. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  14. 1 cup yellow cornmeal mixed with 2 tsp. baking powder
  15. 1/2 cup jack or pepper Jack cheese, shredded
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large oven proof pot or dutch oven, add ground beef and brown over medium-high heat, breaking into pieces as it cooks.
  3. Add onion and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic, stir and cook one minute.
  4. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper, stir well.
  5. Add tomatoes and their juices, green chilies, corn, black beans and cilantro, mix well.
  6. Mix in the cornmeal that has been mixed with baking powder to the pot, stir well that everything is thoroughly mixed. Pat down top with back of spoon to make level.
  7. Place in preheated oven and bake 35 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, turn off oven.
  9. Sprinkle top with cheese, place casserole back in oven and allow cheese to melt, 2 or so minutes.
  10. Remove and serve by spooning onto serving plates.
Calories
274 cal
Fat
9 g
Protein
19 g
Carbs
33 g
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Healthy Southern Cooking http://healthysoutherncooking.com/

Pan Roasted Potatoes with Crispy Sage

I think potatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables there is. Although I know many treat them as a vegetable, I did low carbohydrate for so long I treat potatoes and corn more like a grain. They come in a wide variety; russet, fingerling, Yukon gold, sweet potato, etc. and they all possess their own unique traits for color, taste and texture.

One of my favorite potatoes is the Yukon gold.  They have a naturally golden color, buttery taste with a creamy texture.  They are great boiled, fried and roasted. Continue reading “Pan Roasted Potatoes with Crispy Sage”

Apple Pie

What’s more American than apple pie?  Well, with that being said, apple pie is actually from Western Europe but given that many of the settlers that came to the United States were from there, it makes perfect sense. Do you remember when your mama or gammy would bake apple pie, that aroma would fill the air and it seemed like forever until it was time for dessert after you smelled that sweet cinnamon all day long. Imagine the settlers, they came to America and all we had were tiny, tart crabapple trees so they had to plant apples and wait for the trees to mature and produce fruit, kind of dwarfs the few hours you had to endure to get your slice. Continue reading “Apple Pie”

Southern Butterbeans

So what’s a butterbean, you may ask.  It refers to the larger, flatter, paler lima bean which when cooked has a buttery taste and texture to it. The other variety of lima bean is a baby lima which is small, firmer and greener.  To try to simplify this, a pot of lima beans that are large, beige or pale yellow, served alone as a side dish are butterbeans.  Succotash, which is another Southern favorite, consists of sweet corn and small, green, firm lima beans.

Lima beans have been cultivated since 2000 AD, mainly in Central and South America.  They originated in Peru and when they were introduced to Europe and America, the crates were labeled from Lima, and that is how both varieties of these beans got their names. Continue reading “Southern Butterbeans”

Pub Cheese

Pub cheese, also known as beer cheese, is a spreadable, pungent cheese that is always a crowd pleaser.  While the name may imply that it is of Irish origins (pub), it actually has its origins in Kentucky where they hold an annual beer cheese festival.

Most pub cheeses have sharp cheddar, beer and garlic with a bite of cayenne.  Other ingredients can be horseradish, dry mustard, chives and Worcestershire sauce. Continue reading “Pub Cheese”

Buttermilk Cornbread

Cornbread is a quick bread, meaning it doesn’t contain yeast and requires no time to rise.  It has deep roots with the Native Americans and the colonists that settled in the southern colonies.  In the south it is a staple in most households and Southern cornbread is not sweet nor fluffy like a cake.  Ours is grainier, more dense and made with delicious buttermilk and served with butter.  You may be surprised to know that buttermilk has fewer calories and fat than that of milk.

The main ingredient in cornbread is, you guessed it, cornmeal.  Cornmeal comes in a few varieties; white, yellow and even blue. Typically cornbread usually uses the yellow, which tends to me the most common variety.  Corn is a cheap grain to grow and there is usually an abundance of it, not only here in the United States but in Mexico as well, where Mayans used the grain to make masa for tortillas and tamales.  Here in the South, cornmeal is commonly used not only for cornbread but also corn pone, hushpuppies and Johnnycakes, which are actually a Northern dish. 

Cornbread can be baked or fried and comes in a variety of forms.  This recipe is the baked variety which can be baked in molds, muffin tins, skillets or pans. Continue reading “Buttermilk Cornbread”

Turkey Chili

Chili con carne originated in Texas and is recognized as the state’s official dish.  Chili stands expanded throughout the United states with a wide variety of different techniques and flavors depending on location such as Cincinnati and Chicago, much like styles of barbecue.

Chili cook offs are one of the most popular cooking contests that exist in the United States and chili just doesn’t come in a bowl, it tops hot dogs, burgers, baked potatoes and fries, to name a few.

This is a healthy, light version of chili con carne that is packed with flavor, if you don’t tell anyone they won’t know it is ground turkey instead of ground beef. Continue reading “Turkey Chili”