Testing recipes can get fraught at times. I hate to waste food, so I generally try to arrange for someone to eat what I cook. The first time I made this recipe, I had planned to have a group of people over for dinner to eat the results of several recipe tests, but some last-minute regrets meant that few of us there just snacked on the appetizers and dessert. I wrapped this up and took it to my brother’s family for dinner the next day. They gave me a positive critique, but as I hadn’t really tried much of it myself, I made it again, only for me this time. It met with my approval, and as a bonus, I had some extra pork tenderloin the next few nights. The vegetables didn’t keep as well, so I blended them into a soup with some vegetable broth and extra herbs, a good use but not my favorite. Frankly, the next night I was too busy to cook so I just heated up some slices and that was dinner. I made a sandwich one night with some good mustard and served a few slices with some wild rice the next. Which proofs the fact that a well-marinated pork tenderloin is imminently useful.
I use a 3 ½ quart Le Creuset braiser for this, but if you don’t have a stove to oven vessel large enough, sear the meat in a skillet, then transfer it all to a baking dish. Pour the accumulated juices back into the skillet to create the sauce. I cook the pork in the oven just under the perfect temperature (which is 145 degrees) and let it finish cooking tented under foil so it stays juicy and tender. You can return the vegetables to the oven if they need a bit more time. If you have lovely brown bits in the bottom of your pan, but not very much liquid, add a few tablespoons of water to the bourbon and scrape up all the tasty bits from the pan for the sauce. That added butter creates a delicious, emulsified sauce that is well worth it.
Maple Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Autumn Vegetables
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup whole grain mustard
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 sprigs rosemary
2 pork tenderloins, around 2 pounds
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
3 cups brussels sprouts
2 cups peeled butternut squash cubes (about 1 pound or a small butternut squash)
2 small green apples
1 small red onion
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Put the vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, Worcestershire, soy sauce and garlic in a large ziptop bag. Seal and shale to combine well. Add the tenderloins and the rosemary sprigs, seal the bag and massage around to get the marinade over the meat. Place the bag on a plate and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, which is best.
- When ready to cook, cut the brussel sprouts in half, pulling off any dry or browned outer leaves and place in a bowl. Cut the butternut onto bite size pieces, about 1-inch square. Cut the apple into similarly sized pieces. Add to the bowl. Peel the onion and cut in half, then into strips about ½ inch thick and add to the bowl.
- Choose large enameled cast iron or stainless steel braiser or cast iron skillet or that can go in the oven and will fit the pork and vegetables. Take the pork tenderloin from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place on the plate and let sit for 15- 20 minutes to come to room temperature. Pour the marinade over the vegetables in the bowl and gently toss to coat. Season the tenderloins with pepper and salt generously.
- Pour a couple of tablespoons into the pan and heat over high until hot and shimmering. Add the tenderloins and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Do not turn until the meat lifts easily from the surface. If it is sticking, leave it a bit longer. When nicely browned all over, remove from the heat. Lift the vegetables out of the bowl and arrange around the tenderloins, lifting them up to put some veg underneath. Drizzle the marinade over the meat and veg. Transfer to the oven and cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees. And the veggies are tender. Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a cutting board. Cover lightly with foil and leave 10 – 15 minutes to finish cooking. If your vegetables are not as tender as you would like, return them to the oven until they are.
- Slice the tenderloin and transfer to a platter. Lift the vegetables out of the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange on around the meat. Cover loosely with foil. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Pour any juices that accumulated around the pork on the cutting board. Add ¼ cup bourbon. Cook, scraping the pan until bubbling, then add the butter and cook, stirring until the sauce is thick and emulsified. Spoon over the meat.