This dish is indulgent, there's no doubt about it. But, for an intimate dinner party or a particularly chilly evening, this cozy meal is worth the splurge. In theory a bacon-wrapped pork loin seems rustic and a little rough around the edges, but roasting the pork on a bed of sliced apples and finishing it with sprigs of fresh thyme makes for an extra-special presentation that's sure to impress.
- 1 pound boneless pork loin end roast
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- Salt and pepper
- ½ pound thick-sliced bacon
- 2 baking apples (I used Fuji apples), cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 large carrot, finely minced
- 2 celery stalks, leaves and ends removed, finely minced
- 1 cup hard cider
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon butter
Pat the pork dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture, and then cut slits in the meat and stuff them with the slices of garlic. Heat a cast-iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes, then sear the meat on all sides and transfer to a cutting board. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then sprinkle the pork loin with 4 sprigs of thyme and wrap it with the bacon, making sure to lay the slices crosswise so that it's fully covered (except for the 2 ends).
Place the slices of apple in the bottom of a heavy pot or Dutch oven and sit the pork on top of them. Stick an in-oven thermometer in the thickest part of the pork and then roast it until the meat reaches an interior temperature of 160 degrees; about 40 minutes.
When the pork is done, transfer it with the apples to a cutting board, reserving the drippings in the pot. Add the shallot, carrot, and celery to the pot, set over low heat, and let everything sweat until it's very soft and translucent. Deglaze the vegetables with the cider and broth, and then let the sauce reduce for 15 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and finish the sauce with a tablespoon of butter.
Spoon the apples onto a large serving platter, then top with the pork, followed by the sauce and garnish with the remaining sprigs of thyme. Serve immediately.