This standout reader recipe, from Alice McRae of Huntsville, Alabama, was featured in our December 1989 issue in a story on holiday main dishes. If you’re taking a break from turkey or ham, give this tender, sage rubbed pork a try on your Christmas table. We especially love the richly spiced cherry sauce, which pairs wonderfully with the mild pork and adds a splash of color for a pretty presentation. The recipe calls for a rolled boneless pork loin roast—two pieces of pork tenderloin that come packaged together. You can ask your butcher to tie them together with butcher’s twine or do it yourself, tying the knots at one-inch intervals until the roast is completely tied. In the original recipe, we plated the pork with lemon wedges and ruffles of purple kale. Nowadays, kale has transformed from a garnish to a trendy salad ingredient, but we still think a bit of greenery is always a nice touch, especially around the holidays.
1 (3- to 4-pound) rolled boneless pork loin roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 (16-ounce) can pitted sour red cherries
12 whole cloves
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
3 or 4 drops red food coloring (optional)
Lemon wedges and rind (optional)
How to Make It
Sprinkle roast with seasonings. Place roast, fat side up, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of the meat. Bake at 325° for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 160° (30 to 35 minutes per pound).
Drain cherries; reserve liquid, and add water to make 3/4 cup, if necessary. Tie cloves and cinnamon in a cheesecloth bag. Combine 1/2 cup cherry liquid, sugar, vinegar, and spice bag in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove spice bag.
Combine cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup cherry liquid; stir into hot liquid. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and butter; stir in red food coloring, if desired.
Place roast on a platter; if desired, garnish with kale and lemon wedges and rind. Serve with sauce.