This is our adaptation of an autumn dish that chef Eric Mann, of the Bear Cafe in New York's Hudson River valley, made for us.
- 4 oz. slab bacon, finely diced
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 rib celery, trimmed and chopped
- 1 fuji or other crisp, juicy apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1⁄4 cup shelled pecans, toasted and chopped
- Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme, chopped
- Leaves from 1 sprig sage, chopped
- 2 cups crumbled corn bread
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
- 1⁄3 cup chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (4-lb.) pork loin rib roast, chine bones cracked, rib bones frenched
Preheat oven to 350º. Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8–10 minutes; transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Increase heat to medium-high and add butter to bacon fat in skillet; then add onions and celery and sauté until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add apples, pecans, thyme, and sage and cook until apples soften, 3–5 minutes; transfer to bowl with bacon. Add corn bread, cayenne, stock, and salt and pepper to taste to bowl and toss well.
Put pork on a cutting board with tips of ribs pointing straight up. Using a long, sharp knife, cut along length of loin where loin meets ribs until you reach about three-quarters of the way down loin; then, without completely detaching loin from ribs, begin slicing loin, "unrolling" it into a wide 1"-thick slab.
Season loin with salt and pepper. Spread dressing over meat, roll up jelly-roll style to ribs, then tie with kitchen twine. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a roasting pan meat side up, and roast until internal temperature registers 160º, 60–70 minutes. Loosely cover roast with foil and set aside to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted root vegetables, if you like.