Strawberry Pork Loin

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This recipe was prepared by Chef John Maxwell on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program.

Maxwell, a certified executive chef, culinary educator and member of the American Academy of Chefs, shares delicious seasonal recipes in a Real Virginia segment sponsored by Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Strawberry Pork Loin

3- to 4-pound pork loin
cooking oil
4 garlic cloves
4 ounces bacon
1 cup sliced strawberries, sliced
½ cup balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Split the pork loin lengthways by cutting about three-quarters of the way through and spreading it out flat (This is called butterflying). Do not cut all the way through; you want to have one large piece of pork. If you wish, you can gently tap the open pork loin with a meat mallet or the bottom of a clean pot to make it the same thickness throughout. Wrap the pork in plastic, and store in the refrigerator until it is needed. This can be done a day ahead.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook the garlic for 2 minutes or until it is browned on all sides and begins to soften. Remove the garlic, mash it with the side of a chef knife and chop. In sautéing or roasting the whole garlic cloves you bring out an almost sweet, nutty character.

Return garlic to the oil. Add the balsamic vinegar and half of the sliced strawberries, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste, and add the remaining strawberries.

Using a brush, coat the inside of the pork loin with some of the sauce. It’s OK if some of the strawberries find their way into the pork as well.

Roll the pork loin so it looks like a log, and secure it with string or wooden toothpicks.

Heat oven to 350°.

On a grill or griddle, sear the pork loin until it is golden brown on all sides. Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle registers between 145° (for medium rare) and 160° (well done). This size pork loin will gain about 10 degrees after you remove it from the oven and allow it to rest.

After the meat has rested, slice it ½" to ¾" thick to serve, and top each serving with the sauce. Serves 6-8.

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