Maple-Glazed Pork Roast

Published March 1, 2003.

Why this recipe works:

Maple-glazed pork roast often falls short of its savory-sweet promise. Many roasts turn out dry (a constant concern when cooking today’s lean pork), but the glazes often present even bigger problems. Most are too thin to coat the pork properly, some are so sweet that they require a hotline to… read more

Maple-glazed pork roast often falls short of its savory-sweet promise. Many roasts turn out dry (a constant concern when cooking today’s lean pork), but the glazes often present even bigger problems. Most are too thin to coat the pork properly, some are so sweet that they require a hotline to the dentist’s office, and few have a pronounced maple flavor. We wanted a glistening roast, which, when sliced, would combine the juices from tender, well-seasoned pork with a rich maple glaze to create complex flavor in every bite.

For this dish we chose a blade-end loin roast, which has a deposit of fat that helps keep the meat moist. We tied it at intervals to make a neat bundle. Searing the roast first on the stovetop was a must for a brown, flavorful ­exterior. We then removed the pork so that we could use the browned bits in the skillet to build the glaze. Maple syrup, with complementary spices and a touch of cayenne pepper for heat, made a thick, clingy glaze. Instead of brushing the glaze onto the pork, however, we decided to keep things simple: Rather than hauling out our roasting pan, we returned the pork to the skillet, rolled it in the glaze to coat it, and put the whole thing into the oven. The smaller area of the skillet kept the glaze from spreading out and burning, and the glaze reduced nicely while the roast cooked. Rolling the roast in the glaze periodically ensured even coverage and resulted in a tender, juicy roast packed with maple flavor.

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Serves 4 to 6

A nonstick ovenproof skillet will be much easier to clean than a traditional one. Whichever you use, remember that the handle will be blistering hot when you take it out of the oven, so be sure to use a pot holder or oven mitt. Note that you should not trim the pork of its thin layer of fat. The flavor of grade B maple syrup (sometimes called "cooking maple") is stronger and richer than grade A, but grade A syrup will work well, too. This dish is unapologetically sweet, so we recommend side dishes that take well to the sweetness. Garlicky sautéed greens, braised cabbage, and soft polenta are good choices.

Ingredients

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