It’s 5pm, and I’m heading home from work. I’m lucky to live just a short ten-minute drive from my office–just enough time to think about supper and I’m in the mood for something a little offbeat. Time to pull in to see Earl; it’s time for Boudin-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.
Earl’s Cajun Market is a neighborhood grocer that hundreds of cars pass each day on the busy Verot School Road. Most are way too hurried to give a second glance to this little secret outpost of Cajun recipe riches.
Like most Cajun markets, Earl’s is a family operation with a laid-back and low-key focus on quality meats, hearty plate lunches, and boudin–one of the best boudins in all of Acadiana. Ok, so that’s debatable, but nevertheless, Earl’s has been heralded by numerous awards and mentions as one of the top boudin makers in Louisiana. But, it’s what Earl’s does with their special Cajun recipe for boudin that is remarkable. As a serious meat purveyor, they produce a wealth of value-added signature items and many of their Cajun recipe classics contain boudin. Boudin is the perfect stuffing for meats, especially pork, and Earl’s boudin-stuffed pork tenderloin is a stellar example.
For their version of boudin-stuffed pork tenderloin, the skillful butchers at Earl’s slice open a tenderloin and spread it with cream cheese and leave just enough room to squeeze in the boudin. They close it and sheathe it with bacon strips and spice it liberally with Creole seasoning mix. It’s a perfectly simple execution that works on all levels. Pork tenderloin is an especially lean piece of pork that has a tendency to dry out quickly. By stuffing the boudin and spreading the cream cheese, the inside of the pork stays moist, and the bacon works to shield the exterior of the loin by bathing it in pork fat.
I set out to add even greater flavor to my Cajun recipe for Boudin-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with a sauce to crown it. I love to make wine sauces, and when my friend Ted gave me a beautiful bottle of blackberry wine, I had a clear bead on the perfect tart, yet fruity accompaniment to this pork tenderloin. There’s a lot going on with this hearty Cajun recipe, but the effort is definitely worth it.
- 2-pound pork roast, fat trimmed
- Water, for braising and boiling
- ½ pound pork liver
- 1 cup Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 bunch green onions, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of hot sauce
- 2 (1½ pounds) pork tenderloins
- 1 package cream cheese
- 2 pounds boudin
- 1 pound smoked bacon, thick cut
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 cups white onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, finely diced
- 1 bottle blackberry wine
- 1 tablespoon sugarcane molasses, such as Steen’s
- 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, if needed
- 1 tablespoon cold water, if needed
- Sprigs of rosemary, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- In a heavy pot with tight-fitting lid, add the pork roast and fill the pot with water to a depth of 4 inches. Cover, place in the hot oven and braise the pork roast for 2 hours or until falling apart. Remove the pork from the pot reserving the cooking liquid.
- In a pot filled with water over high heat, add the liver and boil until well done, about 10 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- In a rice cooker, make the rice following the package directions and keep warm until ready to use.
- In a food processor pulse the meat and liver along with the yellow onions and garlic until it reaches a smooth, yet chunky consistency. Be careful not to over process to a pasty, mushy stage.
- Incorporate the cooked rice in a ratio of 80% meat mixture to 20% rice. Gradually add some of the cooking liquid until the mixture is moist. Add the Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and green onions. Add salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Evenly incorporate ingredients together.
- To keep the boudin warm without drying out, I suggest wrapping it tightly in aluminum foil and place in a slow cooker set to warm with a half-inch of water in the bottom.
- For any leftovers, shape the boudin into patties as a base for poached eggs at breakfast or it can be shaped into boudin balls, dredged in cracker crumbs and pan-fried.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- On a wooden cutting board, slice each pork tenderloin along the middle, but stopping short of going all the way through. Form a pocket leaving a half inch at each end and open it up.
- Spread the cream cheese liberally along the full length of the bottom of the pocket. Stuff the boudin inside the pocket. Close the pork loin and turn the meat up on the cutting board. Lay strips of bacon on the top, side by side, along the length of the tenderloin wrapping the ends of the bacon underneath to close it up.
- Sprinkle the tenderloins lightly with seasoning. Stem and chop one sprig of rosemary and sprinkle over the tenderloins.
- In a deep-sided baking pan lined with aluminum foil, place the tenderloins and add the chopped onions and garlic along with 1 cup of the blackberry wine.
- Cover the top of the baking pan with foil and move it to the oven. Set the timer for one hour.
- After 1 hour, take out the pan and remove the foil cover. Pour off the onion, wine, and pan drippings into a medium-sized pot. Move the pan back to the oven uncovered to begin finishing the meat. Turn the heat up to 400ºF.
- After 15 minutes open the oven and check it. See that it is starting to add color and the bacon is just beginning to crisp. The bacon should not be totally crispy, but still hold its shape along the length of the tenderloin. Watch closely and remove. Cover once again with foil and let rest in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, finish the sauce by turning the burner on high heat under the pot with the drippings. As it begins to reach a simmer, add the rest of the blackberry wine and the molasses. Turn the fire down and let the mixture reduce by half. With an immersion blender, blend the onions and garlic to a purée, which will help thicken the sauce. Stem and chop the remaining sprig of rosemary and add to the sauce. Add richness to the sauce with the knob of butter. Stir and taste. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to correct the seasoning. The sauce should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not like a thick gravy. If you need to thicken, make a slurry by stirring 1 tablespoon of corn starch and an equal amount of cold water. Stir it into the sauce and let it come to a boil to reach the desired thickness. Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and keep warm.
- To plate the dish, move the tenderloins to a cutting board. The bacon will serve as a mark for portion controlling as you should slice in between each bacon strip. Position the pork pieces on a large platter retaining the shape of the tenderloin. Be sure to spoon some of the wine sauce over the top and garnish with more sprigs of rosemary.
- Mashed potatoes would be the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Serve the sauce on the side and pair with a good red wine – Pinot Noir would be nice.
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