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MAN.

We made this on Sunday for our monthly dinner group.  I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since I saw it in Sunset Magazine December 2009.  Yes. I’ve been pining over a recipe *this long*.  Now I’m wishing we’d made it before.  And we’ll most certainly make it again.

Figs: awesome. Garlic: durrrrrr. Pinot Noir: I’m starting to like it (though I still prefer a more full bodied wine.. but that’s neither here nor there…)

So yeah.  This recipe.  You really should try it.  I picked up a 5.5-pound pork shoulder from my butcher to feed 10 people.  NOT ENOUGH!!

To start: slice a bunch of Mission figs in half.  The recipe calls for dried Mission figs, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry dry ones.  They worked just fine.

On a side note… I miss Fig Newtons.

Next:  put the figs in a big pot on the stove, add a bottle of Pinot Noir (BV Costal had a good flavor. and price tag).  Add a little anise, about a teaspoon (I was a little apprehensive about this since I’m not a licorice fan but it wasn’t enough to overpower the other flavors), and a full package of fresh thyme.  For the record, I hate buying herbs.  I grow herbs.  But not when it’s not warm enough for them (or anything else) to grow in my yard.  And yet I digress….

Bring it all to a boil for about 10 minutes or so.  I boiled a little while, then reduced to low and covered.  Then realized I’d forgotten the sugar.  Whoops.

After the mix has been boiled, and forgotten sugar has been stirred in, let hang out and cool.  I would have done this on Friday night but I didn’t make it to the store for a few key ingredients.  Oh well.

Next up: prep the pork.  Slice garlic, make the rub, and stuff the meat.

The recipe calls for just 8 cloves of garlic sliced thick.  We just about doubled the recipe, so we probably quadrupled the garlic.

Riddle me this: how do you get this much sliced garlic without getting garlic fingers?  Ask the hubs to do it!

And the “rub”.  Thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Stir.  That easy.

I would recommend preheating the oven to 325 degrees now.

Now for the actual pork.  I warn you, this is not pretty.  Honestly when I looked back at the photos, I thought it was pretty gross.

Slice about 1-inch long cuts into the pork (evenly spaced…. haaa oops), deep enough to cram in a fig half and slice of garlic.  Next time, I may just get a loin roast and space the slits evenly so there’s some pattern to these closed up holes stuffed with garlic and fig.

I told you this wasn’t pretty…..

Now.. take the figs that you didn’t stuff in the pork and let them hang out for a few hours.  We’ll use them later.

Using kitchen twine, tie up the roast. Crosswise. At about 1-1/2-inch intervals.  um….

If I hadn’t recently watched Jacques Pepin tie up a monkfish, I would have done a much worse job.

Now rub it up with the thyme-oil-s&p rub.  And don’t be shy…

Now it’s time to get cooking.  In a large skillet/fry pan/whatever will fit this beast, heat it hot, add some oil, and brown the meat on all sides.  But don’t scorch the meat.  I may have, but it tasted just fine.

Once each side is browned, move the meat to a [Pyrex] baking dish.  My 9×13 fit this one.

Back in the pan, add some more oil if the meat soaked it all up, then throw in your leftover garlic over medium heat.  Fry it for a few minutes (gently, don’t burn), then add another bottle of Pinot Noir.

Let it reduce just a smidge, then pour this mixture over the pork.  Cover tightly with foil, and bake.  Since we had such a big piece of meat, we let it roast for 3 hours.  The recipe says to roast for 2 and a half hours.  3 was just fine.

After time passes, uncover the roast, and add the fig-wine-thyme mixture from before.  Remember that?  Yeah, that was hours ago.  Cover it back up and bake for another 20 minutes.

Doesn’t look like much, but that’s okay.

From here, take the pork out of the slosh of delish and let it rest (covered) on a big carving board.  Return the pan juices/figs to a pan to boil and reduce.  This will be your gravy.  Yes, you heard me… GRAVY.  Non-traditional, but that’s just fine.  There was a lot of thyme leaves floating around, so I decided to strain the mix before adding it to my gravy boat.

Once the pork has time to rest and you’ve called everyone to dinner (have to do this at least 5 minutes prior to actual eating time), plate the pork and drizzle some sauce over top.

This was gone.  In about 20 minutes.. I swear.

You’ll have a ton of figs leftover.  Save them (and the “gravy”), and make another small pork loin roast for dinner two nights later.  Seriously.  This was pretty awesome with brussels sprouts (cooked with fried onions and garlic… thanks hubs!!!).

I’m pretty excited that we finally got around to making this.  I think pork is a great meat for gatherings.  Christmas, Easter, dinner parties… yup.  This is love.

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