Do you know what I love?
It’s just ridiculously delicious. Heck! Even pigs know that they taste good. That’s why it’s okay that they’re so ugly. (As adults! Baby pigs are pretty stinkin’ adorable.)
Since the dawn of sausages and syrup, pork and maple were meant to be together. Maple bacon doughnuts, candied maple bacon – Don’t get me started!
Something about fall has me smelling maple syrup everywhere. (Anyone else get hit with fall propaganda just walking past Bath and Body Works?…not that it’s a bad thing!)
Maybe it’s just elicited by the visual stimulus of seeing those vibrant maple leaves turn shades of polished gold and sunset red. Somehow I’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dogs to crave all things maple the minute those leaves start to shed their colors.
And so, thus was born the maple-glazed pork tenderloin. I threw in some smoky paprika and ancho chile powder along with a hit of cayenne to put a little pep in your step. The spicy-sweet pork is paired with a silky smooth butternut squash purée that I dressed up for the autumn occasion with a touch of cardamom.
If you aren’t familiar with cardamom – get acquainted. It’s a simple way to revamp any of your traditional recipes where you use pumpkin spice. (just add in a little along with your usual cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) It’ll give it an unexpected twist and bring in that familiar and often-craved “chai” flavor.
Pork tenderloin is very lean so it’s crucial to:
1. not overcook it (take it out of the oven at 150 degrees F and it’ll be that perfect shade of pink in the middle – or leave it in until 155 to 160 if you like it less pink)
2. sear that outside! That lovely caramelization will lock in those juices to keep it moist and tender-licious.
It’s a simple combination that you can pull off in an hour, but the flavors will have you singing the praises of those falling leaves.
AND if your kids are anything like mine, they will love it. Pretty much anything with syrup gets two sticky thumbs up! (just leave out the cayenne for those little ones)
Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Cardamom Butternut Squash Puree
Servings: 6 to 8
Total Time: about 1 hour
2 pork tenderloins
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
4 T . real maple syrup
2 T. dijon mustard
1/2 orange, zested
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Chopped mint, for garnish (optional)
Butternut Squash Puree:
1 butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 T. cream
2 T. butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle the cut halves of butternut squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down on a large cookie sheet. Cook the squash for 30 to 40 minutes or until fork-tender.
- While the squash cooks, prepare the pork. Rinse the tenderloins and pat dry. Drizzle with vegetable oil and season all sides with kosher salt and pepper.
- Heat up a cast iron or oven-safe pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Pour a little bit of vegetable oil into the pan. When the pan is screaming hot, sear both tenderloins on all sides until the exterior is a caramelized brown. Put the pan with the pork tenderloins into the oven to cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F.
- While the pork is cooking, finish the butternut squash purée and make the maple glaze. In a microwave-safe bowl mix together syrup, dijon mustard, orange zest, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder, thyme, cayenne and vinegar. Warm the glaze up in the microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes or just until the glaze starts to boil to thicken it a bit.
- Brush the glaze on the pork during the last 5 minutes of cooking. (Once it reaches about 140 degrees F.)
- Scoop the butternut squash out for the shell and into a food processor. Add in the cream, butter and cardamom. Purée until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper or more cardamom if it needs it.
- Rest the pork tenderloins on a cutting board for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain and serve on top of the butternut squash purée or alongside with more maple glaze drizzled over top and sprinkled with chopped mint.
Feel free to add more spice to the glaze by putting in more cayenne. Likewise, take out the cayenne if you don’t like the spice.