maple-mustard pork tenderloin with caramelized apples

As long as I’ve known my sister (i.e. my whole life), she’s been replete with ideas both good and bad. For example, when we were kids she liked to play “chef” and take random ingredients in the small kitchen at our after school program and “cook” (or rather, mix) them and then serve them to poor saps like me. She and her friends would run around exclaiming about their marvelous creations and I only recently learned that, despite her proud exclamations of her masterpieces, she in fact found them as disgusting as I did.  And it was such a relief! I mean, we’re talking about ketchup, flour, water, sugar, baking soda, and food coloring.  That kind of thing.  Yech.

But she does on occasion have really, really good ideas. Such as Apple Day.  Here’s what it is in her own words:

Apple Day is an extremely flexible holiday.  It comes on a beautiful, crisp, autumn day when you say to yourselves, today is Apple Day; depending on weather reports earlier in the week, you might even be able to plan ahead for Apple Day.  And then you have apples in every meal.  One might have waffles with apples sauteed in butter and maple syrup (with a little cinnamon) for breakfast.  Bread and cheese and apples for lunch.  And for dinner a salad with apples, cheddar cheese, almonds, and a cider vinaigrette, roasted pork with apples, and some apple dessert–often a crumble or croustade.  Often apple day includes going to an orchard to pick the apples for all the meals (except breakfast) and is the site of a picnic lunch.  Oh, and good cider, though it will never be as good as the old Cider Barrel.*  Clearly, apple day is not a low-cal affair.  Last year, apple day was different for us.  We had apple dinner, then the next day apple breakfast and apple picnic.  That’s just how things worked out for us.  And no orchard visit last year–just a visit to the farmer’s market. But the celebration is infinitely flexible – the point really is to be celebrating beautiful weather by being outside, and fall cuisine by featuring one of its best ingredients in tandem with the holy trinity of spice combinations: cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (with all due respect to cloves).

When I asked her about Apple Day, she got extremely excited and asked if we were celebrating it this year.  I had to sheepishly explain, that no, we weren’t celebrating it in earnest, but I did want her recipe for the roasted pork with apples.  Had we been better prepared, we really should have served it with the apple salad that she recommends. Ah well.  The roasted asparagus we had with it was pretty good.  And we could have had an apple dessert…but I made maple sugar cookies instead.  Well, there’s still plenty of fall left for a real Apple Day.

And now that you have the roasted pork with apple recipe, you too can celebrate Apple Day.  If you ask me, there’s no better way to ring in the fall than with a bountiful feast celebrating fresh apples.  And this is an absolutely wonderful recipe.  I love mustard and I love maple syrup.  The two together just create an incredibly delicious spicy sweet goodness over hot, juicy pork.

* The Cider Barrel was a barrel shaped building on the side of the road in Germantown, MD that sold the best apple cider I’ve ever had.  We used to drive an hour several times during the fall just to get out there and get some cider and we would even buy extra gallons to freeze so we could enjoy it for a a little while after they had closed for the season. Unfortunately they have permanently closed, so while the barrel still sits there on the side of the road, their famous cider is no more.  Sigh.

Maple-Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples

Adapted from Cooking Light

This recipe from Cooking Light came to me from my sister, but we adapted it with Thomas Keller’s technique of pan searing the pork before putting in the oven that I’ve told you about before. It’s pretty fantastic made with the original instructions, but if you really want to be blown away, try the technique below. We also used the skillet that the pork is seared in, deglazed it with hard cider, and cooked the apples in it.

Serves 4

2  (1/2-pound) pork tenderloins
Cooking spray
1/4  cup  Dijon mustard
6  tablespoons  maple syrup, divided
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  pepper
4  medium Granny Smith apples, each peeled and cut into 16 wedges (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons hard apple cider

Preheat oven to 350°.

To make the maple mustard marinade, combine the mustard, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Heat some canola oil in a large skillet.  Season the pork with kosher salt and pepper and sear in the pan, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a roasting pan coated in cooking spray and brush the marinade over it.  Save the skillet you seared the pork in for cooking the apples.  Roast the pork until the internal temperature reaches 135 or 140 degrees at the thickest part, about 20-25 minutes.   Transfer it to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes.

While the pork is baking, take the skillet that you seared the pork in and deglaze it with the hard cider over medium-high heat. Add apples, and saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to low, and add 4 tablespoons maple syrup. Simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

Carve the pork on the diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4 inch-thick slices, spoon the apples on top,  and serve with the remaining mustard sauce.

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