Several years ago my mother concocted a dream of a meal out of a venison backstrap. It was stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, minced garlic, crumbled bacon, and rosemary, and then beautifully wrapped in thick-cut bacon. It was as pretty as it was delicious. It was two of my favorite animals to eat smushed together in one meal, and it was AMAZING.
Flash forward and I was out on my own in the big city. For New Years dinner that year, my housemates had never had the traditional pork, black-eyed peas, and greens that the South is so famous for, so I decided to treat them. Lacking a backstrap, I decided to use a boneless pork loin. The result was almost as amazing as my mom’s. There weren’t any leftovers, that’s for sure! Since then, this has been my go-to meat for New Years, although it’s good ANY time with a number of different sides. I usually make mine with roasted cabbage steaks and some kinds of bean.
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Pork Loin
Boneless pork loin (mine was about 5 lbs)
1-2 packages of thick cut bacon (2 if you make one 5lbs)
8-oz box of cream cheese, softened
Bacon pieces (NOT imitation bacon bits)
Salt, pepper, minced garlic, and rosemary to taste
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
After you’ve washed and dried the pork loin, dig through your kitchen to find the sharpest knife possible. Hold it up, laughing maniacally, and pretend you’re a mad scientist (aside from eating the results of this recipe, this is honestly my favorite part). Now get down to business.
Slice the pork loin in half, like all those sub sandwich shops attempt to do. Congratulate yourself for getting it as level and even as possible.
If you’ve let your cream cheese sit out for while, this part should be easy. If not…honestly, y’all, I’ve yet to discover a decent way to soften cream cheese. Just make sure you pull it out a couple hours ahead of time. Mix together the cream cheese, bacon pieces (you can use as much or as little as you want, just make sure the mixture still resembles cream cheese if you’re a bacon-aholic), and seasonings. This is easy to do by hand, no mixer required.
Spread the mixture on one of half of the pork loin. Smother it on like sunscreen on a ginger (I’m a ginger; I can say that). Now put the the other half back on. Voila! You’ve already done better than the sandwich shops!
Now for the wrapping. It’s really hard to explain exactly how to do this, but I’m gonna try. I usually take a few strips of bacon and cut them in half to cover the ends of the loin. That way the braiding kind of tucks them in. For the actual braid, I usually take the end of a piece of bacon and tuck it under a corner of the pork loin. Then cross the strip diagonally across the loin and tuck the other end under the side of the loin. Repeat the tucking and wrapping until the pork loin is covered. I usually overlap my bacon a little bit. It just looks prettier with no gaps. There’s really no wrong way to do it.
Cover with foil and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours or until it reaches an internal temp of 145º-150ºF. Legally, I should tell you that food safe is 160ºF and that if you eat anything cooked to less than that you’ll probably turn into an alien, or at the very least get sick. HOWEVER, in my opinion, cooking this to food safe temp seems to dry out the meat. It’s not moist and juicy, there’s no pink at all. It’s just ruined. I have cooked this to 145ºF every single time for 6 years and I’m fine.
Check your temp when you reach the 2 hour mark. Usually at about 135º-140Fº, I’ll carefully remove the foil and then let it cook until it reaches temp. This makes the bacon OMG good, and a pretty golden color.
Cover with foil when you remove it from the oven (it keeps it from cooling too fast) and let it rest 15 minutes before slicing into it.
Enjoy!! And remember, he who stuffeth, puffeth!!!