Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the tenderloin. I find the lack of fat and the cut in general to be dry and less flavorful than other pork products. But it’s healthy and cooks quickly, so I guess it gets bonus points for that.
In honor of the Woodford Reserve bourbon-sponsored Belmont Stakes on Saturday, I came up with this recipe hoping to impart a lot of flavor and moisture. Since it was pouring when I attempted the dish, I opted for the oven instead of the grill, although I see no reason why this recipe won’t work equally well, if not better, on a grill for some added smokiness. Try this on a weeknight or after you get back from a day at the beach. In the meantime, “I’ll Have Another” glass of bourbon and hope for a Triple Crown on Saturday!
Spiced Maple Bourbon Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Jersey Fresh Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 4 or 2 with leftovers.
For the glaze:
3/4 cup of maple Syrup (Grade A if possible)
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp of fresh rosemary
Juice from 1/2 a lime
2 tbsps of bourbon, preferably Woodford Reserve
Pork tenderloin (about 2 lbs)
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsps of olive oil
1/2 lb of sugar snap peas
1 tbsp of butter
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees or light the grill.
Make the glaze by combining all of the ingredients. Rinse the pork and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan that can go into the oven or on the grill. Brown the pork on all sides. Set aside. Scrap off excess fat, if any. Pour the glaze into the pan to heat it and cook the alcohol out of the bourbon. Return the pork to the pan and turn it to coat with the glaze. When done, place it fat side up in the pan and put into the oven or on the grill. Cook for about 30-35 mins, turning the pork to coat with the glaze once or twice while cooking. The pork is done when a meat thermometer reaches 140-45 degrees. For best results, try to make sure the pork is of uniform thickness throughout. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board.
In the meantime – either while the pork is cooking or resting, blanch the sugar snap peas (for the novice, boil some water with salt, add peas and simmer for about 3 minutes, then remove and place under cold water). Toss with some fresh lemon and a bit of warmed butter. If fresh enough, you could be satisfied with just the salt and pepper, but I leave it to your palette.
Cut the pork into slices and drizzle with the extra glaze that should still be hot in the pan. If the glaze is too thick, you may need to add some additional bourbon lime to it. Just heat through and adjust spice to taste. Do what you need to, because it packs a huge flavor burst and moistness that really make the dish. (Note: The photo is before adding the glaze. Apologies.)
If you want another veggie or starch, a tomato mozzarella salad would be lovely or some fresh corn, maybe Cuban style with some mayo, cayenne and parm, especially if it’s not peak corn season. I always want less food during the summer and am happy to supplement with cheese, spicy Marcona almonds or some grilled fruit like pineapple. Again, experiment. It’s up to you!
This dish works well with almost any adult beverage. A bourbon Manhattan with a sour cherry is an obvious pairing, especially if it’s raining. For sunnier days, I like a vodka or gin gimlet with ginger to match the spice and quench my thrist after a day at the beach. if you’re more into wine, try a dry Riesling, rose or even a Pinot Noir.
(A minor confession that I was forced to use Mrs. Butterworth’s in one version of this recipe. Shockingly, it still came out good.)