Another kind of Yule log: Pork roast roulade

A main course for Christmas that doesn't require a lot of fussy side dishes.

We Are Never Full
Pork roast roulade stuffed with sausage, pistachio, and chestnuts with cider gravy.
We Are Never Full
Cross-section of pork roulade stuffed with sausage, pistachio, and chestnuts

Some families love making meals for Christmas Day dinner that take hours to cook and include many courses or many side dishes.  If that is your type of meal, then you may want to save this recipe for another time. 

This dish is so flavorful and so easy to make. You know what makes it even better? It’s a cost-effective. So chat with your butcher, and just ask him/her to butterfly that pork for you.

After you settle the pork roulade in the oven, grab a huge mug of egg nog, throw on some Johnny Mathis, and spend some time relaxing as you watch "A Christmas Story."

Pork roast roulade with sausage, pistachio, and chestnuts with cider gravy
Adapted from "When French Women" Cook by Madeline Kamman
Serves 4 to 6

2-1/2 to 3 lb. boneless pork roast, butterflied (center cut is best, but we used a tenderloin which worked just fine – the cooking time we list in this recipe is based on a tenderloin which will cook faster than other cuts – internal temp will always be the same, though, about 150-155 degrees F. )
1/2 lb. of sweet Italian sausage (loose, not in casings – if you buy it with casings on, just slice it and squeeze out the sausage)
1 egg
1/4 to 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (you may use more or less to get the right consistency)
1/2 cup of shelled pistachios (about 20-25)
1/2 cup shelled and boiled chestnuts - directions below (you may use jarred/canned chestnuts as well)
1 teaspoon french four spice (aka Quatre èpices)
optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground juniper berries
Salt and pepper
1 cup hard cider (preferably French but English or Canadian could do)
3 or 4 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
Olive oil

Equipment needed: kitchen twine and meat thermometer

 How to shell the chestnuts: With a knife, make and “x” on one end of each chestnut. Bring water to a boil and boil chestnuts for 15 to 20 minutes.  The chestnuts will be soft.  Peel the chestnut shell off, starting where you placed that “x”. You may also choose to roast your chestnuts by cutting the “x” again at the top and then roast for 15 to 20 minutes in a 400 degree F. oven, shaking the pan every 5 minutes.

Time to make the pork! Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the sausage meat, egg, and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs.  Mix well and add more breadcrumb if mixture is too wet.

Sprinkle the butterflied pork with salt and pepper.  Spread the sausage mixture over the whole butterflied pork, leaving a 1/4 inch space on each side.  Sprinkle the pistachios and chestnuts all over the sausage – push a bit into the sausage mixture.

Roll the pork up lengthwise and get your twine ready to be used.

Now, tie up your roast.

Sprinkle pork with the four spice (it’s strong in flavor, so a little goes a long way), rub with olive oil, place in the roasting pan and into your oven.

Roast the pork, at first, for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. Set a timer to remember to turn the oven down after 10 minutes to 250 degrees F.

Depending on the size/shape of your pork loin, it will cook for anywhere between 50 and 80 minutes (remember – this is cooking time for a pork tenderloin) or until it reaches an internal temperature of about 150 degrees F.

Take out of the oven when it has reached temperature, allow to rest under some tented foil for about 15 to 20 minutes.While pork is resting, make the cider gravy.  With the pork roasting pan on your stove top, deglaze the pan with the cider and allow to cook down for a few minutes, picking up all the goodness from the bottom of the pan. Pour this into a cup or small bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes. Using a baster (or, more tediously, a spoon), remove the fat from the lean part of the gravy. Add gravy back to pan, reheat on low and taste to add some salt and pepper.  Add the sour cream and blend with a whisk.  When sauce comes up to perfect temperature, it’s ready to be served.

Slice pork with a sharp knife – about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick.  Pour gravy over pork and enjoy!

Related post: Standing Pork Loin Roast

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