Christmas Eve dinner: Christmas Pork

christmas cookies This year, we’re going to a friends’ home for Christmas dinner – and all they’ve asked me to bring is mashed potatoes. Boring! Since I have the holiday meal cooking bug, I’ve decided to make a big meal for late Christmas Even afternoon. (Why afternoon? We’re off to see other friends that evening. Busy are we!)

As I’ve mentioned previously, my kids aren’t big turkey eaters, so I’ve decided to make a pork dish especially after seeing this Christmas dish for pork loin by Rocco DiSpirito a couple of weeks ago in the Denver Post. I was very intrigued the Rocco uses stevia as a sweetener as I don’t see many celebrity chefs using it.

Also the cooking technique he uses is pretty crazy – cooking the pork submerged in water in a large pot it in the oven. I’ve never done that before! It’s even more challenging since I’m cooking up a six pound pork loin as Costco didn’t have three pound roasts. Needless to say, I better start this dish right at noon on Christmas Eve.

I’ll be combining this with Quinoa with Pomegranate Arils and Goat Cheese, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates, and maybe some gluten free Cranberry Crunch Bark for us – and Santa!

So what are you cooking up on Christmas Eve?


  • 3 pound fresh pork loin, trimmed of all visible fat
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 gallon cold water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, plus extra
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
  • Packets stevia sweetener powder, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarse-ground or stone-ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the pork on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, make shallow diagonal crisscross cuts over the top and bottom of the roast at 1-inch intervals. Use a metal skewer or meat fork to poke about 60 holes over the surface of the roast, making sure to push the skewer all the way to the center of the roast.
  3. Insert the cloves into the intersections of the cuts on the top of the pork. Set aside.
  4. In a large oven-safe pot, combine the water, 1/2 cup of salt and 4 sprigs of the thyme. Stir to dissolve the salt. Gently submerge the pork in the water and cover with the lid or foil. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the pork registers 145 degrees at the center.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Add the turnips and toss to coat evenly with oil. Season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the turnips are tender and nicely browned, stirring once or twice.
  6. Pick the leaves off of the remaining 2 sprigs of thyme and add to the turnips. Toss to coat, then set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the pomegranate juice and the arrowroot until the arrowroot is dissolved. Pour the remaining pomegranate juice into a small saucepan. Add 1 packet of stevia and the cinnamon and heat to simmering. Whisk in the arrowroot mixture. Continue to cook and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the sauce is thickened. Taste and add stevia as needed for desired sweetness. Set aside.
  8. Remove the ham from the cooking liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is smoking, add the pork roast and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned on both sides, turning once. Remove the pork from the pan.
  9. Add half of the pomegranate glaze to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the pork back to the pan with the glaze and turn to coat the meat completely. Remove the pork from the pan and place on a cutting board. Add the turnips, half of the pomegranate seeds and the tarragon to the glaze in the sauté pan. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the turnips are heated through and coated with the glaze. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Whisk the mustard and horseradish into the remaining half of the pomegranate glaze and pour into a small serving dish.
  11. Remove the cloves from the pork, then thinly slice the pork. Place the pork slices on a large platter. Add the turnips to the platter around the pork and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds. Serve with the mustard and horseradish sauce
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 8
  • Serving size: 1/8 of roast
  • Calories: 313
  • Calories from Fat: 75
  • Total Fat: 8g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 1421mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 11g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 39g
  • Cholesterol: 107mg

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