Happy Monday! If you came around these parts over the weekend, you would have seen the first part of this recipe in the Farmers Market Series, Roasted Beet & Fried Goat Cheese Salad. Knowing that the salad needed an entree to go alongside it, I wrote a recipe for Maple Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Instead of merging the two recipes for one post, it seemed like a great idea to turn it into a two-parter and close out our Sunday Night Supper series with it instead. After all, it’s the first full week of fall and this is the perfect summer to fall meal. Maple has a presence throughout both recipes and the flavors combine beautifully.
Pork in general was something I never preferred growing up but as I got older, I started appreciating it more. Something I discovered in particular is that it’s a great fall meat. Pork pairs well with maple and the sweeter flavors of fall produce like beets and squash. Like beef, pork comes in a variety of cuts from traditional chops to roasts and today’s cut of choice, loin. A pork tenderloin will cost you a small fraction of what a beef tenderloin will cost you though. It’s tender, juicy and pretty forgiving from what I’ve discovered. Pork tenderloin cooks well in the crockpot or on the grill but I prefer to roast it. Start by getting a nice sear on the meat to hold in all those wonderful juices and then finish it in the oven. It’s very low maintenance and allows you to focus on the other part of the meal while it cooks. Might I suggested the Roasted Beet & Fried Goat Cheese Salad this recipe was meant to pair with?
Pork can be a tricky meat to determine its doneness. I hate cutting into meat to check because it causes the juices to run out and you risk a dry dinner. I’ve become a huge fan of the meat thermometer for pork and chicken breasts. It’s a pretty full-proof method to determining whether the meat is finished cooking without going all Edward Scissorhands on it mid-roast. If you insert the thermometer and the pork has reached a few degrees below 145 (but no less than 140), it’s safe to pull the skillet out of the oven because the pork will continue cooking while it rests. That cast-iron skillet gets screaming hot so a few degrees under won’t hurt anyone.
Do you have to sear the pork tenderloin before roasting it? The short answer is no. However, because we’re using maple syrup, searing the pork not only gives it that beautiful crust that is wonderful all on its own, it caramelizes a bit as well because of the sugars in the syrup. Bottom line, this will be delicious with or without the sear. If you do choose to sear it, you’ll get a wonderful umami flavor that mixes sweet and savory cohesively with hardly any work on your part. Another question, what if I don’t have a cast-iron skillet? First, get one. It’s my #1 used kitchen tool followed closely by my porcelain enamel grill pan (which is also oven safe). Second, no problem. Sear the tenderloin in a non-stick skillet first and transfer to a baking sheet or baking dish to move into the oven. If you have an oven-safe skillet, you could use that as well. I love anything that reduces the amount of dishes I need to deal with later. So if I can move something from stove to oven to stove seamlessly without creating an extra dish, it’s a winner.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sunday Night Supper series that we did this month! I loved sharing these recipes with you. Hopefully they’ve inspired you to gather the family around the table one night a week to catch up on each other’s lives while enjoying great food.
Maple Roasted Pork Tenderloin
2 - 1-2 lb. Pork Tenderloins
¼ cup Maple Syrup
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Drizzle the pork tenderloins with olive oil and brush with half of the maple syrup. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place the tenderloins in the hot skillet and let brown on each side, about 5-6 minutes per side.
2 - Brush the browned tenderloins with the remaining maple syrup and transfer to the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing to serve.
Yields 6-8 servings