Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Filtering by Tag: Dates

Stuffed Pork Loin with Dates & Golden Raisins, Salad of Arugula, Fennel & Blood Orange, with Blood Orange Gastrique

Prep Time:  1 hour    Cook Time:  30 min    Serves: 4

Pork loin is a fantastic protein for its versatility.  It’s also cheap, which is arguably a better quality.  This dish however, is luxurious and would be at home on any fine dining menu. Serve this to impress guests at a dinner party, or as a treat for a weekend dinner with the family.

A note on cooking pork.  Until quite recently, it had been suggested to cook your pork all the way through to 165 degrees.  Anyone who has had a dry pork loin before will know this is overdone.  To the joy of chefs everywhere -who had been insisting on the change for years - recommended temperature has been lowered to 145 degrees.  Since a stuffed roast pork loin is relatively large, resting the pork like a steak will allow it to come up to temperature gradually without risk of overcooking.  I recommend cooking your pork to an internal temperature between 135-140 degrees in  the oven, and allowing it to  rest and finish off the heat   This will produce pork with a slight rose-hue in the middle, but it is most definitely done.  The pork will be far more tender, juicy and flavorful at this temperature, rather than tough and dry.


  • 1 2-3lb pork loin roast - butterflied
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil


  • ½ cup chopped seedless dates
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large shallot - finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 large fennel bulb - sliced thin on mandolin, leaves reserved
  • 2 large blood oranges - skin and pith removed, cut into segments
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • gastrique
  • ½ cup fresh blood orange juice
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ orange blossom honey
  • 3 tbsp chicken stock


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add in the shallots and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic has browned and shallots have become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add dates, raisins, and walnuts to the pan and stir to incorporate all ingredients thoroughly.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until walnuts start to brown and stuffing has become fragrant.  Remove stuffing from heat and add mix to a bowl and set aside.

Lay butterflied pork loin out on your cutting board and season heavily with salt and pepper.   Lay a thin layer of stuffing over the entirety of the pork loin and, beginning at one end, slowly roll up the loin into a tight cylinder and lay seam side down.  Using kitchen twine, tie the roast securely in 1” intervals.  Season the outside heavily with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet with 3 tbsp vegetable over high heat.  When the pan and oil are hot, sear all sides of the loin until golden brown.  Remove the pork loin from the pan.  Place pork on a lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven  for approximately 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees.   Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile, place a small sauce pot over low heat and add honey, vinegar, and blood orange juice.  Allow juice and vinegar to reduce over low heat until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken stock and reduce again, another 3-4 minutes.  Remove gastrique from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  Assemble salad of arugula, fennel, and blood orange in a large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Slice pork loin diagonally on a bias and serve alongside salad, drizzling salad and pork  with gastrique.  Garnish with fennel leaves.