Maple and 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, or even a nice pork sirloin.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2                           whole pork tenderloins, or one pork sirloin roast (1.5 lbs), 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.

Sap Runs in the Family

Sanagan’s grade A maple syrup is produced in Guelph, Ontario by Shady Grove, the same family who raise most of our holiday turkeys. Shady Grove has 30,000 taps installed in 15 local woodlots, feeding not picturesque buckets but networks of vacuum-powered sap extraction systems. Their sugar shack (a.k.a. production facility) has the ability to process 4000 gallons of syrup per hour. They are serious about syrup and the result is top grade stuff.

In contrast to this high-tech scenario I’ve had the immense good fortune, having married into maple, of seeing the process at its most pioneer-like. My wife’s family, The Purvis’s obtained their original 400 acres of farmland and bush near Brockville, Ontario, in the form of an 1812 War land grant. At some point in the 1840’s they built a stone farmhouse. This is the house my wife grew up in, shaded by massive ancient sugar maples tapped for generations to produce the family’s annual batch of maple syrup.

#13 Syrup Street

If you’re looking for a holistic wellness program, I can’t recommend syrup making strongly enough. Endless lungfuls of bracing fresh air in a deeply natural setting, hiking through the bush carrying heavy buckets, mounting the pick-up truck, unloading the heavy antique milk cans and filling the boiler; it’s like CrossFit at Walden Pond.

Graham’s bucket list

After your workout you bask in the sap spa, the makeshift boiling tent where 40 units of sap is reduced into 1 unit of syrup and you steam yourself in the clouds of sweet mist coming out of the wood-fired evaporator. While you gently steam, it’s recommended you re-fortify with constant sampling.

Boiling Up

So, I count myself lucky to be included in this sweet tradition. For those of you who don’t have a tapping family, you can still enjoy this elemental distillation of Canada’s natural flavour. Just include a bottle of maple syrup on your next Sanagan’s shopping list.

Ted and Laurel Purvis

Ted (right) started early