- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall weather has arrived in New England with its cool, crisp nights, reminding us that it’s time to leave light summer fare behind and pull out more robust recipes.

Nothing quite captures the glories of autumn like pork tenderloin and pears. In the recipe that follows, tenderloins are split, filled with a Roquefort-and-herb stuffing, then roasted along with quartered pears. When the tenderloins are roasted and cut, this stuffing, prepared with crumbled Roquefort, fresh bread crumbs, and generous seasonings of rosemary and thyme, appears as a nugget in the center of each slice, an assertive accent. A sauce made with pan drippings, balsamic vinegar and stock accompanies the pork, along with golden roasted pear wedges.

The roasts, which can be stuffed and skewered several hours ahead, need to be quickly browned, then popped in the oven for less than 30 minutes. Count on about 5 minutes to prepare the sauce. Mashed potatoes and tender green beans or pureed butternut squash and brussels sprouts sauteed with slivered garlic would make fine sides for this vibrant main course.

Roquefort-stuffed pork tenderloin with roasted pears

Makes 6 servings.

Two pork tenderloins at least 1 pound or up to 1 1/4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat

1 tablespoon dried crushed rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (see note)

1/3 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium chicken stock, divided

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided

2 slightly under-ripe Bartlett pears, quartered and cored (or keep stems, if you like)

Wooden skewers or string for tying roast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish, optional

Make a deep slit down the length of each tenderloin, being careful not to cut all the way through. Spread meat open, then pound lightly just to get a uniform thickness.

Mix together rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Place half of this mixture in a bowl along with bread crumbs and cheese. Using your fingers, rub together ingredients (as you would for a crumble), and then stir in 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons stock, just to moisten mixture. Divide stuffing between the two tenderloins, patting it evenly atop the cut surfaces.

For each tenderloin, tuck the tapered end in, and pull the sides together, then skewer (or tie with string tightly at one-inch intervals) to hold the sides together. Pat roasts dry with paper towels and rub remaining herb mixture over surface of each. The roasts can be prepared 4 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat over to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then add pears and toss to coat.

To a flameproof roasting pan, add 2 tablespoons oil or enough to lightly cover the bottom, and place pan over medium-high heat.

When oil is hot, brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes. Scatter pears, skins side up, around the meat. Roast 10 minutes, then turn meat and pears. Continue until an instant read thermometer registers 150 degrees when inserted into thickest part of meat, and pears are tender and golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove meat and pears to a cutting board; cover loosely with foil.

Place roasting pan over high heat and add remaining 1 cup stock and 1 tablespoon vinegar; reduce liquids by a third while scraping bits on bottom of pan into the sauce. Swirl in butter and season with salt. Remove skewers, cut roasts into 3/4-inch thick slices. Place on a platter and garnish with pears and, if desired, with fresh herbs. Drizzle with pan sauce.

Note: Use a 1- to 2-day-old good quality peasant or country bread with crusts removed and process in food processor to make coarse crumbs.

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