Maple-Dill Glazed Pork Tenderloin, with Maple Gastrique

I find that when I want to cook with maple syrup, my mind is always drawn to pork. Sugar shacks make good business in the springtime with hunks of bacon roasted with the golden syrup served with stacks of flapjacks, and it makes a great marinade for fresh pork as well. Dill is an herb I don’t commonly associate with pork, but after making this recipe I think I’ll be using it a lot more with that particular meat. A gastrique is a type of basic sweet and sour sauce, or glaze, and commonly made with sugar or honey, and some fruit-based vinegars like sherry, or apple cider like in this recipe. It goes very well with the leaner pork tenderloin.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2                            whole pork tenderloins, trimmed of all fat and silverskin
1 tbsp                   salt
2 tbsp                   maple syrup
1 tbsp                   Dijon mustard
2 tbsp                   fresh dill, chopped finely
1 tsp                      ground black pepper

Gastrique

¼ cup                   maple syrup
½ cup                   apple cider vinegar
to taste                salt and pepper

Method

1. Season the pork tenderloins with the salt and place in a casserole. Mix the maple syrup, Dijon, dill, and black pepper together, then pour the marinade over the pork, massaging it into the meat. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one, and up to 4 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

3. Take the tenderloins out of the fridge and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Roast in the hot oven for ten minutes, then flip them and roast for an additional ten minutes or until an internal thermometer plunged into the center read 150°F. Remove and rest for ten minutes, covered.

4. Meanwhile, make the gastrique. In a sauce pot on a medium heat, bring the maple syrup to a low simmer and cook for about five minutes, or until slightly caramelized. Add the vinegar and stir frequently as it cooks for another ten minutes, or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

5. Slice the pork tenderloin and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with some of the gastrique, and serve the rest on the side.

Gemelli with Milk-Braised Pork Ragu

Gemelli, the Italian word for twins, is a spiral-shaped pasta similar to a tight fusilli. It works very well with meat ragus, as the sauce gets into the narrow folds of the pasta, reinforcing the overall flavour of the noodle. Braising meat in milk is a very old technique – the acidity of the milk helps break down the protein, and the fat gives the sauce a smooth mouthfeel. You should use very fresh milk, and not let it come to a hard boil, or else you risk curdling the milk. If the milk curdles though, have no fear. It will not have an effect on the finished sauce other than looks.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 ½  lbs                 ground pork
1 ½ tsp                  salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp                     pepper, plus more to taste
pinch                     ground clove
pinch                     ground nutmeg
3 tbsp                   white wine
1 ½  cup                chicken stock
1 ½ cup                 milk
½ lb                        oyster mushrooms, torn into strips
1 cup                     frozen peas
1 tbsp                    butter
2 tbsp                   Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, plus more to top the pasta
1 tbsp                   Italian parsley, chopped
2 cups                   gemelli pasta (or substitute with fusilli or penne rigate)
 

Method

1. In a work bowl, mix the ground pork with the 1 ½ tsp salt, the ½ tsp pepper, the clove, the nutmeg, and the white wine. In a sauce pan over a medium heat, brown the seasoned pork, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until the meat is slightly browned.

2. Add the stock and the milk, and reduce the heat to low. Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by just over half. The ragu should be saucy, not soupy or completely dried out. If the liquid evaporates too much, add in a little extra stock.

3. Add the mushrooms and the frozen peas to the ragu and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the peas are completely defrosted. Turn the heat off and add the butter, Parmigiano, and parsley to the pan, stirring vigorously to emulsify. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

4. Bring a large pot with at least 2 quarts (liters) of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gemelli and cook until al dente, or just cooked through. Drain and toss with the ragu.

5. Serve immediately, and top with a grating of Parmagiano Reggiano, if desired.