Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
Why this recipe works:
To devise a pork tenderloin recipe with perfectly cooked meat, we settled on a stovetop-to-oven method that gave us a good crust and a succulent and tender interior. For a balanced and substantial maple glaze that would adhere to the meat, we mixed the syrup with molasses and mustard, primed… read more
To devise a pork tenderloin recipe with perfectly cooked meat, we settled on a stovetop-to-oven method that gave us a good crust and a succulent and tender interior. For a balanced and substantial maple glaze that would adhere to the meat, we mixed the syrup with molasses and mustard, primed the tenderloin with cornstarch so the glaze would bond to it, and applied a second coat of the glaze when the meat was nearly done.less
This recipe will work with either natural pork or enhanced pork (injected with a salty solution). If your tenderloins are smaller than 1¼ pounds, reduce the cooking time in step 3 (and use an instant-read thermometer for best results). If the tenderloins don’t fit in the skillet initially, let their ends curve toward each other; the meat will eventually shrink as it cooks. Make sure to cook the tenderloins until they turn deep golden brown in step 2 or they will appear pale after glazing. We prefer grade B maple syrup in this recipe. (Don’t be tempted to substitute imitation maple syrup—it will be too sweet.) Be sure to pat off the cornstarch mixture thoroughly in step 1, as any excess will leave gummy spots on the tenderloins.
- 3/4 cup maple syrup (see note)
- 1/4 cup molasses, light or mild
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or brandy
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 pork tenderloins (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each) (see note)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir ½ cup maple syrup, molasses, bourbon, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne together in 2-cup liquid measure; set aside. Whisk cornstarch, sugar, salt, and black pepper in small bowl until combined. Transfer cornstarch mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Pat tenderloins dry with paper towels, then roll in cornstarch mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Thoroughly pat off excess cornstarch mixture.
2. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Reduce heat to medium and place both tenderloins in skillet, leaving at least 1 inch in between. Cook until well browned on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer tenderloins to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
3. Pour off excess fat from skillet and return to medium heat. Add syrup mixture to skillet, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon, and cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 2 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons glaze to small bowl and set aside. Using remaining glaze, brush each tenderloin with approximately 1 tablespoon glaze. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of tenderloins registers 130 degrees, 12 to 20 minutes. Brush each tenderloin with another tablespoon glaze and continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of tenderloins registers 135 to 140 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove tenderloins from oven and brush each with remaining glaze; let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes.
4. While tenderloins rest, stir remaining ¼ cup maple syrup and mustard into reserved 2 tablespoons glaze. Brush each tenderloin with 1 tablespoon mustard glaze. Transfer meat to cutting board and slice into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Serve, passing extra mustard glaze at table.
Where Glazed Pork Tenderloin Can Go Wrong
Without something to help it stick, glaze slides right off the meat.
Delicate pork tenderloin becomes dry and tough if left in a hot skillet while cooking through.
An under-reduced glaze ends up coating your cutting board instead of your meat.
Keys to Good Coverage
To create a rough, sandpapery surface on the tenderloin that would hold the glaze, we rolled the meat in a mixture of cornstarch and sugar before browning it in the pan and then roasting and glazing it.