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.

Pot-au-Feu With Marrow-Stuffed Beef Shank Roast

There’s lots to love about pot-au-feu: it’s an unfiddly, flexible yet grand way to feed a group; it accommodates multiple, cheap cuts of meat; and, if made with care, provides its own first course of delectable broth.

My recent rendition, shown below, features Sanagan’s boneless beef shank roast stuffed with herbed marrow. This is one of the our most affordable cuts. When slow-cooked the shank’s multiple muscles eventually break down, yielding up full, earthy, beefy flavour and satisfying texture. When I was discussing this recipe with Peter he emphasized the value of having some boney stuff in the pot to enrich the broth. To that end, I added a marrow bone cut into rounds. I wrapped these pieces in cheesecloth so as not to lose the yummy marrow in the depths of the pot. And to exploit pot-au-feu’s versatility, I threw in some duck legs.

Here’s a basic Pot-au-Feu How-To, including the first course broth, that you can tailor to your meat and veggie preferences and number of mouths to feed. But don’t stint on the quantities. It makes for great leftovers, reheating easily, or resurrected as a sublime hash.

  • Place your main cut(s) like, beef or game chuck roast, shank, short ribs, brisket, pork or boar shoulder, whole birds etc. in a big pot and cover in cold water.
  • Very gradually bring to a bare simmer. For approximately the first hour of simmering regularly skim the cooking liquid. The scum should get whiter as you skim. Rigorous skimming’s not so essential if your foregoing the first course soup but it’s still a good practice to illuminate some of the scum. The more vigilant the skimming, even beyond this initial stage, the clearer the broth.
  • Season to taste.
  • Add roughly chopped vegetables like clove-studded onion, carrot, celery, a whole unpeeled garlic bulb and a big bouquet garni (a bunch of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme and bay leaf, held together with string or cheesecloth) Because I was using the herbed shank roast, I decreased the size of the bouquet garni. The Time/Life Good Cook series* suggests adding an apple to the pot so as to decrease fatty flavours. I’m unsure how necessary this is but it looks very chefy and picturesque.
  • Continue to simmer until the meat is tender, 2 hours or more depending on the cuts. Add additional smaller items like sausage or poultry pieces as you go, aiming to have them all finish together.
  • Towards the end of the meat poaching, prepare the finishing vegetables; things like pearl onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips and potatoes, all cut into bite-size pieces. These will be served with the meat.
  • Once all the meat is tender, set it aside, keeping it warm and moist in a bath of stock and dispose of the exhausted vegetables left in the pot. Strain and degrease the broth. Here you will be glad of a gravy strainer jug. Reserve a portion of this broth for the first course.
  • Return the remaining broth to a fresh pot. Add the finishing vegetables and, while you enjoy your soup, cook them until well done.
  • Arrange all the meat on a big platter and strew the finishing vegetables around it. Douse with the broth, present the platter to the table and start carving. Oohs and aahs guaranteed. An extra jug of broth on the table will not go amiss.
  • Traditional accompaniments include gherkins, horseradish and mustard.

* Keep an eye out for this series of hardcover, photo illustrated cookbooks in thrift shops, used book stores or on-line. They’re as authoritative as Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and less sought-after.