Disclaimer: This is part of a sponsored collaboration with DiMe Media and the National Pork Board. All opinions are 100% mine.
This holiday season, we are proud to partner with the National Pork Board, who is inviting pork fans from across the nation to celebrate the holidays by giving back with pork in inspiring and unexpected ways. ¡Inspirate a Dar con Pork! We’re calling it, #Porksgiving because there’s no better way to say thanks to someone who gives back than with a home-cooked meal. And as Latinos many of us know that there’s no better home-cooked meal than one made with pork!
We each have our special ways in which to celebrate Thanksgiving. Whether it’s watching football, waking early to watch a parade, binging on T.V. or cooking a meal together, Thanksgiving is all about sharing moments and giving thanks with our loved ones, and we do that by sharing a meal.
With a large, loving Latino family spread out across the city, we typically have a few Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate. For us, it is important to keep it simple and enjoy our time visiting with family and friends.
This is the fourth year that we spend Thanksgiving in Colorado with my small family. But the weeks before are often filled with cooking and eating with loved ones in Southern California. I love to entertain, but after years of fussing, I’ve learned a few things about how to plan a simple, yet rewarding, Thanksgiving dinner with Latino sabor.
Keep it simple and stick with the basics: mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Then bring some Latino sabor to these classic dishes, by making mashed potatoes with roasted chiles, add some chipotle to your cranberry sauce and instead of pumpkin pie, make Calabaza en Tacha. My other tip: ask for help because you’re going to need it. Plus, it’s better when everyone has a hand in preparing Thanksgiving dinner. You can focus on 2-3 things, like the entree and a side dish, and make the rest a potluck.
Which brings us to this recipe: Calabaza en Tacha Stuffed Pork Loin, This recipe gives a nod to our Latino heritage with the calabaza, or squash, but stays true to the showpiece stature of a Thanksgiving entrée. Not only is pork delicious, but it can also be a heart-healthy option, and with lean cuts, pork can be a versatile option for any holiday celebration. Plus it can cook a lot faster than a giant bird in the oven.
Calabaza en tacha, which is candied squash, is made with pumpkin, but is just as delicious with butternut squash. The squash is cooked in the oven with hard cones of packed piloncillo, and warm spices like cinnamon, anise, and cloves. The candied squash can be eaten with a spoon and a drizzle of piloncillo syrup or in a bowl with some milk, which is my preferred way to enjoy this decadent dessert. If you can’t find piloncllo, you can substitute dark brown sugar, but many markets will carry piloncillo in the Hispanic aisle or international section. The roasted pork, while savory, pairs remarkably well with warm sweetness like in a brown sugar or maple glaze. So stuffing a pork loin with calabaza en tacha is just the next natural step for #Porksgiving.
Calabaza en Tacha Stuffed Pork Loin
For the Calabaza en Tacha:
1 large butternut squash
6 (6.5 ounce) piloncillo cones
6 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced in half-moons
5 pound pork loin, trimmed
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut the butternut in half and remove the seeds. Cut the butternut squash into 1 inch pieces.
3. In a roasting pan combine the butternut squash, piloncillo, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and water. Place in your oven and allow to cook until the squash is tender, but not entirely mushy, about 2 – 2 1/2 hours.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Reserve.
5. Once the butternut squash is tender, use a spoon to scoop the flesh, making sure to remove the skin. Roughly chop the squash and combine with the sautéed onions. Allow to cool.
6. Reserve the piloncillo syrup from the roasting pan. You’ll be using some of it to baste the pork loin. (Store the extra liquid for other uses.)
7. The pork loin need to be sliced in a spiral cut. Using a sharp knife, make one long slice the entire length of the loin, about an inch deep. Carefully start to slice and “unroll” the loin as you go. (Watch my Porksgiving Periscope at the bottom of this post for a video tutorial.)
8. Unroll and lay the pork loin flat. Evenly spread a layer of the calabazaa and onion mixture on the pork loin. Roll the loin back up.
9. Secure the pork loin by trussing: with kitchen twine, tie the rolled up pork loin in roughly one inch intervals. Don’t tie it too tight because then your Calabaza filling might just ooze out.
10. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients to create a sort of rub. Pat the rub on the outside of the trussed pork loin. Place it back in the roasting pan. Drizzle some of the reserved piloncillo sauce over the pork.
11. Cover with foil and place in the oven and allow to cook until the pork is cooked to your liking, about 20 minutes per pound, basting every 20 minutes with the piloncillo sauce. (You can remove the foil the last 10-20 minutes of cooking.)
12. Allow the pork to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Watch this video for a tutorial for spiral slicing the pork loin:
Visit PorkBeInspired.com to get inspired and do some good because from now until the end of the year,The National Pork Board will donate one pound of pork to charity for every pork-inspired greeting card shared. Simply create your own personalized greeting card on the website and share with your loved ones on social media throughout the holidays. Visit PorkTeInspira.com/InspirateADar for more details. Here is mine that I will share on social media.
Visit PorkTeInspira.com/InspirateADar for festive recipes to try and share with your loved ones and keep up with them through social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Happy Holidays!