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 the goods

3 pork tenderloins, each about 500g / 1 1/4 lb

1kg / 2 1/4 lb smoked bacon rashers (each loin needs about 16 slices / rashers of bacon)

piggy #1

1/2 cup pitted, candy-soft dates. chopped

1/2 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped

2 tblspns date molasses (substitute 1 tbslpn molasses and 1 tblspn honey or maple syrup)

pinch cinnamon

whole cloves

piggy #2

1 cup plump dried apricots

1/2 cup orange juice

zest 1 orange

whole cloves

piggy #3

2 tblspns grated parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic, crushed

sprig fresh oregano


time: 20 minutes active 

baking 30-40 mins  

you will need:

baking tray
cake / wire rack

3 little pigs: bacon wrapped pork loins
If necessity is truly the mother of invention; then appetite must be it's nurse.

My butcher recently left me high and dry; I had ordered a large pork shoulder for a Christmas dinner and when I came in to pick it up, he looked me up and down and then said, 'I haven't got it.'

'But I ordered it a week ago!'

He shrugged and then rubbed a little salt into the wound, 'I can't sell you what I don't have'

Flummoxed, I stormed out and went to the supermarket next door. The nearest thing that they had were some stringy looking tenderloins, all squeezed tight and vaccuum sealed in plastic.

I had promised my slow roasted pork to my guests; fat and bone and glorious fork tender flesh. These tough little strips going to be a very poor understudy.

On impulse, I grabbed 3 packages of bacon, determined to use the streaky, smoked fat as a surrogate for juice and flavour.

On the drive home, I mulled over a few alternatives:

'Maybe I could stuff them with dates and chestnuts, then stud the bacon wrapping with whole cloves?'

'Or dried apricots plumped up with some orange juice and zest. The whole cloves would work here too...'

'But maybe a savoury flavour would be better, just roll the loin in some freshly grated parmesan and crushed garlic...add some herbs and then wrap it up in bacon and secure it with toothpicks.'

So by the time that I got home, I decided to try all three. It worked out perfectly. In under 30 minutes, I had all three loins wrapped up and stuffed. The oven was hot, the 3 little piggies went in and baked away for about 30 minutes. And everyone at the table got a kick out of trying each loin and then coming back for second helpings of their favourite.

Some brussel sprouts and roasted potatoes on the side.

Quite a perfect Christmas lunch!
piggy #1 pork loin stuffed with dates and chestnuts
preheat oven to 400f / 200c
trim the pork loins of any 'silver' sinew and chop off the tapered end (the last inch or so; it will overcook)
lay the bacon out on a cutting board so that the strips overlay each other slightly. It will take about 15-18 rashers (slices) of good, fatty bacon to make a bacon 'blanket' long enough to wrap the pork loin.
mix dates, chestnuts, molasses and cinnamon in a small bowl.
spread mix in a central stripe down the bacon blanket, leaving about 3 inches on the left and right uncovered.
place the pork loin over the date spread.
wrap the bacon on one side up over the top of the pork loin
repeat on the other side.
secure the bacon with cloves by piercing through both ends of the bacon rashers.
roll wrapped loin carefully onto a wire rack.
place rack over a foil lined baking tray and place into a hot oven.
roast for 10 minues, then reduce heat to 350f / 180c, bake a further 20 minutes
raise heat to 450f / 230c and cook until bacon crisps and internal temperature in centre of pork loin reaches around 160f / 70c.
remove from heat, cover with foil and allow to keep cooking a further 20 minutes.

piggy # 2 pork loin stuffed with apricot and orange
1/2 cup orange juice in the microwave for about 1 minute.
pour over the dried apricots and grated orange zest.
allow to cool.
drain excess orange juice and repeat the above process substituting the apricots for the dates.

piggy # 3 pork loin with parmesan and galic
pork loin in parmesan and galic
repeat as above, making the bacon blanket, sprinkle about a dozen torn oregano leaves over the bacon. wrap the loin in the bacon and secure with toothpicks. Roast as above.