Roast pork loin with pears, mushrooms
2 to 3 large Bartlett or Asian pears, cored, thickly sliced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper, optional

1. Put brine into a deep bowl. Add pork roast so it is submerged. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Drain. Discard brine. Pat pork dry.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop about 1/3 of the mushroom caps. Mix with ham, garlic, dried pears, onions and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce in small bowl. Add bread crumbs and 1 or 2 tablespoons water to moisten everything. Mix well.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the pork horizontally nearly in half so it opens like a book. Spoon the ham mixture over one side of the meat; fold the meat over. Tie the roast with kitchen string in several places so it is back in its original shape and stuffing is enclosed.

4. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil; heat briefly. Add roast, fat side down. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of the soy sauce and the mirin into the pan, scraping up browned bits. Meanwhile, slice remaining shiitake caps. Add to Dutch oven with sliced pears and broth. Cover.

5. Bake until meat thermometer inserted in pork registers 135 degrees, about 35 minutes. Transfer roast to a cutting board. Tent with foil; let rest 10 minutes. (Temperature will increase about 10 degrees.) Remove pears and mushrooms from pan juices to a bowl.

6. Heat juices to a boil over medium-high heat; boil to concentrate the pan juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream if using; boil to make a medium-thin sauce, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Carve the roast into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange pears and mushrooms around slices. Drizzle with sauce.

Salt and pepper brine:
Mix 1 quart water, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper in a deep bowl. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 316 calories, 37% of calories from fat, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 18 g carbohydrates, 31 g protein, 1,504 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.