We’re just coming out of the stretch of what I like to call “roasting weather”, wherein I adore the comforting smells and radiating warmth of cranking on the oven. This week’s recipe capitalizes on those aromatic smells I like so much, what with its flavors of sauteed onion, roasted apple, and a sweet and tangy maple glaze. The pork isn’t bad, either!
This roast is an excellent opportunity to showcase the types of meats available through my friends at ButcherBox, who contributed the pork sirloin you see in this picture. Pork is one of those meats I have a hard time buying at my local grocery store, since the conditions in which conventional pigs are raised is usually far from ideal. Moreover, it is often difficult to find farmers who raise happy, healthy pigs, since the price of conventionally-raised pork is so cheap that it can discourage farmers from raising animals they know will cost much more at the market. ButcherBox does all that work for us, by sourcing responsibly-raised pork from heritage breeds who are free of antibiotics, ractopamine, and hormones; I also appreciate the fact that they curate their monthly meat boxes, combining familiar and new cuts, which keeps me in a creative mood while in the kitchen.
Today’s recipe looks (and sounds) fancy, but it’s not far from many of my other dry-roast recipes: bring the pork to temperature at a moderately low heat (225F), then add onions, apple, and glaze, and finally finish everything off in a very hot (500F) oven for that perfect external texture.
Maple and Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal)
2-4 lbs pork boneless sirloin or tenderloin roast
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon or hard apple cider (see note below)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lard or olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green apple, cored and sliced
1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels; combine the spice rub ingredients, then rub all over the pork. Let sit at room temperature as you preheat your oven to 225F.
2. Transfer the pork to an oven-friendly stainless steel or cast-iron skillet, then place in the oven and roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 135F, as indicated by an internal probe thermometer (see note below), about 90 minutes. As the pork roasts, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and simmer until dark and thickened, about 15 minutes. Set the glaze aside.
3. Remove the cooked pork and set on a cutting board to rest; loosely tent with tin foil. Increase the oven temperature to 500F. As the oven heats, place the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, and add the lard, onion, and a few sprinkles of salt; sauté until the onions are softened and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the apple slices then place the pork and any accumulated juices on top, then brush the pork liberally with two layers of the glaze.
4. Roast until the pork is very dark and crispy on the outside, about 5 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve with the apple and onion slices plus any remaining glaze.
** I’ve heard some concerns about consuming bourbon, since while it is usually made from corn, it can sometimes be made from wheat, and therefore potentially cause issues for those with celiac disease. Most generally agree that the distillation process removes the gluten, there are some who still react to this liquor; in that case, be sure to use hard apple cider instead!
** When it comes to picking up an internal probe thermometer, you have two choices: a quick-read thermometer, or a remote thermometer. Each have their merits; quick-read thermometers are simple and cheap, but remote thermometers let you check the temperature without disturbing the cooking environment (critical in BBQ/smoking adventures). If you’re looking to buy one, and you’re into metrics, definitely get the remote thermometer, which lets you track the progress of your cooking in real-time.
** If you’re looking to create a complete meal, whip up some Basic Mashed Potatoes while the pork roasts in Step #2, then cover and keep warm as you finish the pork; sauté some fresh green beans or asparagus while the pork is in its final resting stage.