There are two things that require abundance during the holiday season and that is gifts and food. Arguably these are the two things that bring the most cheer, which is why most of our efforts and time in preparing for the holidays go to Christmas shopping and prepping for a feast in the kitchen. Many people haven’t even recovered from turkey-induced comas, yet here we are once again gearing up for another kind of coma. Eggnog-induced maybe?
Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here in the Philippines, so we jump right into getting ready for our Christmas. Filipinos go all-out during Pasko. The food and the parties (and the karaoke-singing) literally never stop. I’m not sure if any of you have ever heard about how the Filipinos celebrate Christmas the longest in the world. Normally the carols start being played in malls as early as September. Christmas decorations don’t get removed up until Valentine’s.
I’m not complaining about any of this because I love Christmas, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you would know that I enjoy making an annual Christmas recipe series for the blog. Christmas baking is especially fun! This year though I thought I’d start with an easy main course dish. I feel like I’ve chosen a bunch of special but sweet recipes for this year and I don’t want to overload you with sugar.
This recipe I’m ushering in December with is a really easy and tasty one despite its simplicity. I also think it would look great on a Christmas spread. And the best part is that it goes well with any sauce! DIY your favourite, or use a combination of whatever the heck you want and it will still taste wonderful.
So Christmas party prep. It can be a little manic, I must admit. It takes a lot of planning and advance decisions. Sometimes it can even be a test on your character, on how you deal with pressure or when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to. Adapt and adjust, as most parties will have you do.
In other words, go with the flow.
Sometimes even the most stringent of planners encounter bumps on the road, and I know first hand that sometimes these bumps can seem like mountains when you’re the party planner. So here’s a little dish that will require very minimal amount of worry because it’s so easy you barely have room to mess it up. The worst that can happen is if tour butcher messes up the butterflying of your tenderloins like mine did, but I easily found a remedy by slicing my tenderloins to smaller pieces to make smaller pork rolls instead if the typical large one. Here’s a great video to show you the correct way to butterfly your tenderloin. I was supposed to do it on my own but I guess the butcher felt especially industrious that day.
The reason why I chose to write about a stuffed Pork Rolls recipe is because it is an incredibly forgiving one. You can stuff it with whatever you want and cook it however you want. My stuffing has a mix of my favourite mushrooms and I love how it kind of pops in the mouth and is super juicy. The bacon adds something savoury and the spinach gives it a little fresh veggie flavour too, elevating just pork into pork stuffed with the goodies I love. Of course, you can totally customize the filling as well if you wish. Adding cheese would be nice.
Then when it’s time to cook you can opt to grill it, roast it, or in this case, pan-fry it. Pan-frying takes the shortest amount of time I think. Cover the pork rolls in cornstarch and then just fry it in a skillet with hot oil.
And like I said, the pork rolls will lend itself to your choice of sauce, so my recommendation is to use your favourite one.
I initially wanted to drizzle some basil-garlic oil (composed of chopped basil, garlic, and olive oil) on top of the pork but my mother, being the saucy woman that she is (lol), decided that it would be better to make something more flavourful involving some of her favourite store-bought sauces. She mixed together family favourites spicy Korean bulgogi sauce, Sriracha, and Kraft honey-mustard BBQ Sauce, then she poured the sauce all over the pork rolls and some steamed baby potatoes.
Et voila! Devoured in a matter of minutes.
Mushroom & Spinach-Stuffed Pork Tenderloins
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 8 ounces combination of favourite mushrooms, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chopped fresh spinach
- 2 pieces pork tenderloins, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds in total, butterflied
- 1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes.
- 2. Add the mushrooms, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Let cool.
- 3. Soak 10 to 12 toothpicks in water. If pork is not thin enough, take your butterflied pork and cover with plastic wrap, then pound some more using a meat mallet until about 1/4 inch thick, starting from the middle and working outward.
- 4. Spread the mushroom mixture over the tenderloins. Starting with the long side, tightly roll up each tenderloin. Secure the seams with the toothpicks, making sure the filling is kept inside.
- 5. Heat your skillet over medium-high heat with about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Meanwhile, roll your tenderloins in a little cornstarch, then fry in the skillet until lightly browned and fully cooked through (about 160°F/71°C internal temperature). Transfer to a cutting board to rest, about 10 minutes.
- 6. While meat is resting, prepare your favourite sauce. Here at home we simply mixed our favourite American BBQ sauce with some Korean BBQ Sauce and some Sriracha and poured it on top. You can also mix some olive oil with chopped basil, lemon, and garlic to make a Basil-Lemon Dressing for the rolls. The sauce is completely up to you!
- 7. Pour the sauce on top, then slice and serve!
Guess there’s some value in spontaneity too, in the middle of all this crazy structured planning for the holidays. It’s hard sometimes to get sucked into that blackhole of perfection we crave so much. Lest we forget, Christmas is supposed to be fun! And cooking is all about adaptation! 🙂