Monday, October 24, 2011

Got maple?

OK, so anybody who's not completely tuned me out when I've talked about my fall cooking and baking escapades knows that maple syrup (yes, the real stuff) is a big part of my ingredient go-to list. Maple syrup is sooo good for you, and you don't need a lot of it. You really add fewer calories cooking with maple syrup than when you add sugar. So there.

So here's a recipe that was inspired by a Cook's Illustrated recipe for perfecting pan-roasted chicken, together with my love of maple syrup.

Maple Dijon Pork Tenderloin (or chicken breasts)

1 pork tenderloin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts (between 1-1.5 pounds)
Olive oil (around 1T. or so)
1 T. dijon mustard
2-3 T. pure maple syrup
1 -2 t. bouquet garni or poultry seasoning (if you don't have either, then use some combination of sage, thyme, marjoram and similar herbs)
1 medium apple, sliced

1. Heat the oven to 400F. Remove the pork (or chicken) from its packaging and place on a plate or paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and herbs, ensuring to cover all sides.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet, or another similarly stove-to-oven appropriate pan, and when hot add the olive oil and swirl to coat.
3. When the oil has heated up just a smidge, place the pork (or chicken) in the pan - watch the heat and dial it back if it seems that the pan is too hot. After 5 minutes, turn over (in the case of pork you will make 3 rotations to cover the whole surface). The side that just cooked should be a bit golden - if it's darker then cook the other side using less time. (This step is searing the meat, all the better to keep the juices inside...)
4. While the pork (or chicken) is cooking, combine the Dijon mustard and maple syrup in a small bowl. After you've turned the pork (or chicken) the first time, baste the cooked side with the mustard-maple syrup mixture. Repeat after you turn the meat over again.
5. Once all sides of the meat have seen the "hot" side of the pan, throw the apple slices into the pan, turn off your burner, and place the pan into the oven. Make sure that you have basted the pork (or chicken) one last time before placing into the oven.
6. Cook for an additional 15-25 minutes (will really depend on the thickness of the meat) until cooked - use a meat thermometer to test for doneness (pork should be 160-165 degrees and chicken should be 165 degrees)
7. Let it rest so the juices can redistribute. Serve with mashed potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, Sauerkraut, applesauce, etc. Slice and enjoy!

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