Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maple Brined Pork Tenderloin

One cannot live on chutney alone.  Well, perhaps one can, but I made the roasted pear chutney a few days back to serve in tandem with this lovely pork roast.  I adore brining.  Everything I have bathed in a salty spice bath has emerged far more tender and flavorful than I could ever anticipate.  The thought of piney juniper berries and rosemary paired with deliciously sweet maple syrup sounded like a heavenly combination (and yet another blend I am bookmarking later for venison or elk roasts come fall...)  I already had juniper berries in my spice cabinet, thanks to the corned beef I made on Paddy's Day.  I highly recommend adding this spice to your repertoire...especially if you are a fan of German roasts, fragrant sausages, and rich stews.

The recipe halves beautifully for smaller roasts as well.  But who doesn't enjoy leftovers?
adapted from Thyme in Our Kitchen 
serves 6-8

The Ingredients
for the brine
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp juniper berries
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
12 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
8 cups water

for the roast
1 3-4lb pork loin roast
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
pepper to taste
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup

to serve
sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 recipe of roasted pear chutney

The Process:
for the brine:

In a large saucepan, combine all of the brine ingredients together.  Over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir the brine until the salt, sugar, and maple syrup have completely dissolved. Let the brine cool. Pour the brine into a large stainless steel or glass container.  
Pierce the pork loin all over with a skewer and add it to the brine, weighing down if necessary to keep the roast submerged. I have found that oven roasting bags, very securely tied, work well for brining, should a non-reactive container large enough to accommodate the roast is not available. Cover and refrigerate for no longer than 12 hours, turning the roast at least once. 

for the roast:
Preheat the oven to 400

Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Do not rinse. Sprinkle generously with pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan over med-high heat. Sear the roast on all sides until browned. Place into a large roasting pan. In a small bowl whisk together brown sugar and maple syrup.  Brush over the top of the roast.
Place uncovered in the oven and roast until internal temperature reaches 145° to 150 and juices run clear, about one hour.  Remove from the oven. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. 

Slice thinly and serve with Roasted Pear Chutney.

The Review:
This is one of the most flavorful and juiciest pork roasts I've had to date.  I adore pork tenderloin, but on occasion, even in the slow cooker, I've managed to dry the meat out.  Not so with this recipe.  Even after being sliced and dressed on the plate...sitting patiently as photos were snapped, the meat remained wondrously moist.  The pork has a wonderful salty unami flavor about it, with a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup.  I would have liked the rosemary and juniper to sing forth a little more, and I am not sure the red pepper or ginger lent much to the end flavor.  Simplified a bit more perhaps a few more flavors could be coaxed out of the background.

But what really makes this meal sing is the addition of the roasted pear chutney.  The vinegary tang and warm spice of the chutney elevated the meat to a completely new level. 

The meal was everything I could hope for from a Friday night with my husband.  Perfect dinner date for two...with leftovers a plenty! 


  1. Oh, this sounds wonderful!! And you've cooked it to perfection :) I have pork tenderloin defrosting for tonight's dinner...I may have to make this!

  2. Thanks for the Foodbuzz friend add...I love brined pork! Yours came out so pretty!!