Pork Loin with Spinach & Goat Cheese

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A sophisticated stuffing of creamy goat cheese, silky spinach, and lemony herbs give this lean and mighty pork loin 5-star flavor. Topped with apricot-infused sweet and sour sauce, we tip our hats to the slow cooker for coaxing out this degree of decadence. To achieve the coveted crisp-tender texture of the pork, we recommend browning it on all sides before placing it in the slow cooker. Once cooked, use a serrated knife to slice the pork with ease. Pair this divine main with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans or garlicky Brussels for a well-rounded meal that is sure to impress.

 

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until shallots are caramelized. Add spinach; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until wilted. Remove from heat.

Step 2

Combine goat cheese, chives, parsley, and lemon rind in a small bowl.

Step 3

Holding knife flat and parallel to cutting board, cut horizontally through the center of pork loin, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open flat, as you would a book. Starting at the center seam, cut horizontally through each half, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open flat on either side. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet. Remove plastic wrap.

Step 4

Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over pork; top with the shallot mixture. Roll up pork jelly-roll fashion. Tie with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Step 5

Wipe pan clean. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add pork; cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Place stuffed pork in a 5-quart slow cooker.

Step 6

Add apricot preserves, butter, and mustard to pan; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Pour over pork loin in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of pork registers 145°F. I cooked mine in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes and it was just great. 

Step 7

Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 15 minutes. Skim and discard fat from sauce in the slow cooker. Pour sauce into a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook 5 minutes, until reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in vinegar.

Step 8

Remove and discard twine. Slice pork into 12 slices; serve with sauce.

Pork Loin with Spinach & Goat Cheese

Tricolor Beet-and-Carrot Salad

 

Here is my version of the salad.  It is interesting if you actually put it together with the way they suggest, you don’t see the carrots, which are very pretty.

Tricolor Beet-and-Carrot Salad

How to Buy and Store Goat Cheese

I don’t eat dairy, so enjoy all sorts of goat and sheep cheeses.  I found this article by Janet Rausa Fuller in Epicurious.

When you hear “goat cheese,” what probably comes to mind is that little white log: fresh chevre, creamy, tangy deliciousness.

It’s a good starting point. From there, goat cheese can run the gamut from firm to funky to crumbly to melty to nutty, you name it. Basically, anything cow or sheep’s milk can do, goat’s milk can do just as well—or better.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know on your next goat cheese excursion.

FINE FAT

You know how the cream in raw cow’s milk rises to the top? It doesn’t in goat’s milk. That’s because the fat molecules in goat’s milk are smaller and finer.

Think of it this way: Goat milk is naturally homogenized. It’s also more digestible and has less lactose than cow’s milk. When that milk is turned into fresh cheese, “It’s a whole different ball game,” Schad said. “That texture is going to be like silk in your mouth.”

By the way, the flavor of the milk has little to do with what goats eat. “It’s what they’re smelling right before they produce milk that transfers over,”  Impress your party guests with that one next time.

ALL-SEASON CHEESE

Used to be, spring was goat cheese season. Breeding happens in the fall and into early winter, so baby goats (and therefor goat milk) happened in the spring. But year-round demand means you can find goat cheese all the time, though artisans say the time of year can affect production.

“We get almost twice as much milk from our goat producers in the spring and summer as we do in the fall, which is why we started making aged cheeses to begin with, so we’d have cheeses that could hold.”

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?

Goat cheese can be fresh (unripened) or ripened. Texture and flavor vary quite a bit beyond that depending how the cheese was made.

Fresh goat cheese is soft, young and not always log-shaped. Soft- or surface-ripened goat cheese develops a white or sometimes wrinkly rind as it ages over weeks; texture-wise, it can range from creamy to crumbly. Aged goat cheese is firm, ripened over a longer period and can be quite complex and pungent.

BUY JUST ENOUGH

Goat cheese is like bread or wine, to be enjoyed once you crack it open. So this is not the time for bulk shopping. Buy what you know you’re going to eat within seven days.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Plastic wrap invites unwanted mold, so avoid it if you can. “What happens if you put mushrooms in a plastic bag for a week? It’s the same thing.”

If you have a cheesemonger who lets you sample before you buy, who can slice to order, who constantly refreshes the case, who uses paper, not plastic, wrap … fantastic. That’s ideal—and probably not the situation at your average supermarket. Still, you can take steps to find the best options wherever you shop.

Fresh goat cheese should feel firm, not mushy, “otherwise you’re paying for water,”. For vacuum-sealed cheese, avoid excess liquid, leakage and any off-colors. For varieties with rind that have already been cut into, look for any separation between the rind and the cheese — you don’t want that. If it looks dried out as if it’s been sitting there a while, it probably has been.

LET IT BREATHE

Goat cheese—any cheese—needs humidity and some room to breathe. If you missed it the first (and second and third) time, here it is again: Plastic wrap BAD.

Vacuum-wrapped chevre from the grocery store can keep, unopened, for at least two months. But once opened, take it out of the packaging and store in a lidded plastic or glass container in the refrigerator.

For varieties with rind that didn’t come in paper, wrap first in wax paper and then in plastic and store in the refrigerator drawer. “You’re creating a layer of breathability.”

CHECK, SCRAPE, TOSS

And remember: You’re buying goat cheese to eat within a week, not to see how long it’ll keep in the fridge. Eat the fresh stuff within days, and check on the aged and softer ripened types every other day or so.

When you do, scrape off the surface with a knife and rewrap in a new layer of wax paper, then plastic wrap. While a spot of gray or brown mold isn’t cause for alarm, bright yellow or pink mold is, Schad says.

If your goat cheese tastes sour or way goat-ier than you think it should, toss that, too.

Quotes are by Schad, proprietor of Capriole in Indiana, one of the nation’s foremost makers of goat cheese. Naturally, she has much to say about the stuff, from what makes it so distinct (the fat molecules in the milk) to why plastic wrap is the enemy (hello, suffocation).

How to Buy and Store Goat Cheese