It’s so hot here in Georgia, it’s hard to believe fall is coming – but one thing that signals fall, beyond the weather? Great prices on pork and plenty of apples showing up at the store. That’s what inspired this Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin!
Honestly, in part, I was inspired by the bowl of apples on the counter, too. It always seems like when ya buy a bag, the kids can’t get enough at first, and then the interest wanes. When I noticed a few were starting to look a little lackluster, I knew I had to act and come up with some way to use them, stat!
About Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
My first thought was how good both pork and apples are together, maybe with some sausage, but I checked out the freezer inventory and had a couple of links of Italian Sausage. I knew right away where I was going with this recipe!
Yep, this Stuffed Tenderloin has an Italian flair. The Italian sausage gives just a bit of a punch, the apples a touch of sweetness, the onions and my favorite spice rub (Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub) push the flavors more to the savory side. Just a note: I’m not a huge fennel fan but I love that spice mix!
What to Serve with Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
As the tenderloin cooked in the oven I added a few glugs of wine to the skillet I browned the tenderloin in and then sauteed up more onions and apples for a quick side, Apple and Onion Compote. They’re luscious and just “made” the meal!
I couldn’t imagine this with anything other than mashed potatoes (I have several options right on my site: Simple, Rustic Mashed Potatoes, Best Company Mashed Potatoes, or Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.) Another great option would be these Oven Roasted Tiny Potatoes, all browned and crispy.
Add a salad and a green veggie, maybe Simple Steamed Broccoli or sauteed Swiss Chard (if your family will go there), or maybe Brussels Sprouts and you’re good to go.
Preparing the Pork Tenderloin:
There’s no doubt that this is not a super easy, toss-out on a busy weeknight meal, but it’s not hard to pull off if you have some time to devote to it. Get it ready ahead if you want, refrigerate, then bring it back out to sit on the counter for 30 minutes before browning and baking. The stuffing is easy but does take about 10 to 15 minutes or so, and while that’s cooking away it’s the perfect time to trim and prep your pork tenderloin.
The hardest part of the recipe is trimming the silverskin and cutting the pork tenderloin so it lays nice and flat but that’s pretty simple with good instructions. Make sure to sharpen your knife and that job goes so quickly and easily! Sometimes I forget until I’ve started the cut, then I have to stop, clean everything up, pull out the knife sharpener and start again. And yes, even the best knives need to be sharpened, especially for a job like this.
Be patient with that cutting, taking long slices as you turn the tenderloin bit by bit because if you have a decent-sized pork tenderloin, you’re going to want to cut it in a spiral rather than straight through from top to bottom, so it lays flat instead of what is basically two half-moons connected at the bottom. Cut into the tenderloin about an inch deep along the long length and turning the tenderloin, with your knife at an angle, take small slices along the length, keeping the tenderloin at about 3/4’s inch thick. Then go back to the other side and do the same. There’s a rough drawing at the bottom of the page in addition to the photos, below.
This pork tenderloin I thought was huge but I opened the package to find two scrappy looking little things. I was dismayed! How could I stuff that? It’s in the pics, below. I couldn’t really spiral cut it but I cut partway into it and then just angled my knife, taking small slices until I had one side relatively flat, then turned to the other side and did the same…it all worked out and it’s the same principle.
After your pork tenderloin is cut so it lays as flat as possible, you’re going to gently but firmly pound it out. I use the flat side of the mallet for most of the pounding and only use the pointed side of the mallet if necessary. Go for about 1/2 to 3/4’s inch thick.
Making the Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
It’s fastest to start the stuffing and then prepare the tenderloin as the stuffing cooks and cools. The stuffing is super easy. Add some water and the Italian sausage to a medium sized skillet, turn on the heat and crumble it as it cooks. Toss in the onions and apples and spices. Saute until everything is softened and pliable, add the breadcrumbs, moisten with a touch of wine and then remove it from the skillet and let it cool.
Then stuff and tie the tenderloin, sprinkle it with more spice rub and salt and pepper, brown it in a large skillet (sorry, hate to have you dirty, two) and then toss it in the oven on a sheet tray lined with foil. As it cooks, prepare the Apple & Onion Compote. Deglaze that big skillet (you’ll want all that flavor, that’s why I have you put the tenderloin on a sheet tray to roast) by adding a few glugs of wine, then when almost evaporated, in go the apples and the onions to cook until softened but not falling apart. Taste and season; I like to add just a touch of red wine vinegar to brighten the flavor.
Stuffing and Tying the Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
In the photos below, there is a different stuffing, taken when I made my Bacon, Dried Cherry and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, but the method is the same. Lay the strings for tying out on my cutting board and then put the tenderloin on top of it, then spread out the stuffing, leaving one long side clear. That makes it easier to roll and stuffing won’t squirt out (or at least not too much) when you get to the end. If you lose any stuffing, just shove it back in.
Use a “butcher’s” knot to tie. It’s your basic square not but instead of just one loop at the beginning, take two loops – that keeps the knots from slipping. Make your first two ties at the outer edges, the next in the middle, and then just fill in with the rest of the ties.
Saving Money on Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
Pork Tenderloin (at least plain and not pre-flavored) has become harder to find in my neck of the woods. It’s becoming more common to see the dryer and usually much, much cheaper Pork Loin cut down to tenderloin size and labeled “Tender Loin” or some such misleading thing. Don’t fall for it.
See Buying & Prepping a Tenderloin for more info. If your pork tenderloin is huge, it’s a sign that you’re looking at the much cheaper pork loin that’s been cut, tenderized, and injected with a lot of stuff in an attempt to mimic the juicier and more expensive pork tenderloin so it can be sold at a pork tenderloin price.
Most pork tenderloins are smaller, 12 ounces to a pound, and just like beef tenderloin, is a beautiful cut of meat. Unlike beef tenderloin, it’s very cost-effective. Look for them on special, especially in the fall. At my store they are often on a “buy one, get one half off” special and since they’re usually put out by specific producers, like Hormel, you might find coupons to lower the price. Coupons are usually a dollar off, and you’ll use two of them for a special like that.
You’ll notice that the ingredients are pretty seasonal. Not only is pork often at a low in the fall, as are apples, but you’ll also often see a drop in price and great sales on sausages. Stock up on them when they’re cheap. Don’t keep them too long in the freezer because they can develop off flavors.
In this case, I had a couple of links leftover from something else; my freezer is always full of bits and pieces, and rather than cook something I didn’t think would be eaten leftover when I last made Italian Sausage Sandwiches, I stashed them to use later in a recipe. If you keep an inventory, it’s easy to save and track items like this and save yourself some money at the store.
Sign up for emails from your fave wine shop or liquor store. Most shops have great sales several times a year, especially in early spring with fantastic deals. It never hurts to check the sales bins if your shop has them, and it’s always a good idea to know who in your liquor store is the wine expert. A good one will ask what you’re serving your wine with, what your price range is, and lead you to options you might have never considered.Print
Apple & Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: Italian
For the Italian Sausage Stuffing:
- 1 link of Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
- 3 tablespoons or so of water
- 1 small apple diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 medium onion, vertically sliced, about 1/4 inch thick (about 1/2 cup) cut a whole onion and save the other half for the Apple & Onion Compote
- 1/2 teaspoon Fennel Spice Rub
- 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
- a little wine, apple cider or broth if moisture is needed (whichever is used in the remainder of the recipe)
- salt & pepper to taste
For the Tenderloin & Apple & Onion Compote:
- pork tenderloin, prepared as directed
- Italian Sausage Stuffing, cooled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Spice Rub
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 to 2 larger apples, sliced in sections
- 1/3 onion, vertically sliced (leftover from the stuffing)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Fennel Spice Rub, optional
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon or to taste, red wine vinegar
For the Italian Sausage Stuffing:
Add water to a cold skillet. Add the sausage and turn heat to medium. Cook, crumbling sausage until sausage is cooked through and the water has evaporated. Add the apple and onion and continue to cook until softened.
Add bread crumbs and toss to combine. If too dry, add a little wine, apple cider or broth (whichever you are using in the rest of the recipe.) The breadcrumbs should be moist, not wet. Season with the spice rub if desired. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Set aside to cool.
For the Tenderloin & Apple & Onion Compote:
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Slice the tenderloin, lengthwise into one flat piece: Cut about an inch into the tenderloin, then using small slices and turning the tenderloin bit by bit, keeping the outside portion as even as you can, cut the tenderloin at about 3/4 inch to one inch, until it lays flat. (Basically, cut it at a spiral.) Place between two pieces of plastic wrap cut side up and pound gently until; it reaches a thickness of about 1/2″.
Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the pork and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing mixture down the center of the cut side of the tenderloin, leaving a generous inch and a half along one of the long edges bare. Roll tightly, from the long end with the stuffing spread to the edge towards the bare edge. Tie with butcher twine at 1-inch intervals.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the oven (a foil-lined sheet tray works well) and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a tenderloin reads 145 to 160 degrees F, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil.
In the meantime, deglaze the skillet with the wine. When nearly evaporated, add the apples and onions and cook until nearly soft but not falling apart. Season with salt and pepper and more Fennel Spice Mix if desired. Add a scant teaspoon red wine vinegar or sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar to taste.
Slice the pork into medallions and serve with the Apple & Onion Compote.
Keywords: Alcohol, Apple, Bread, Fennel Spice Rub, Italian sausage, Michael Chiarello, Pork, Pork Tenderloin, Sausage, Wine.