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2 pork tenderloins
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Brine: an optional step but makes a huge difference, even if only doing it for one hour
8 cups water
½ cup sugar
½ cup salt
½ cup Lepp’s chicken broth
¼ cup whiskey or bourbon
¼ cup Lepp’s Apple Cider
2 Tbsp. Smak Dab White Wine and Herb or Canadian Maple mustard, (or plain Dijon, but by now you know I have a love affair with Smak Dab mustards, and I love the look of the whole mustard seeds in the finished dish)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp oil or bacon grease or lard (do you save your bacon grease? If not, you should! It keeps for a long time in your fridge and is excellent for roasting potatoes or veggies or browning meat)
1 large yellow onion, sliced into ¼ thick slices
2 medium firm apples, peeled and sliced, such as Ambrosia or Honeycrisp
Several sprigs fresh sage or thyme
To make the brine:
Combine 2 cups hot water, sugar and salt.
Most recipes call for boiling the water, but all you need to do is ensure the sugar and salt are dissolved, so if the hot water doesn’t quite do it, heat it up briefly, either on a stovetop or in a microwave, stirring until contents are dissolved. Add 6 cups cold water. You want to ensure the water is cold, so put in some ice cubes if it still feels too warm. Place meat in a container large enough to hold the water, and pour brine over the pork. Place in fridge for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours. When ready to proceed with recipe, discard the brine, rinse the pork with fresh cold water and dry with paper towel. If you’ve got a bit of time, it’s good to let the meat come to room temperature before you brown it, 30 minutes would be plenty of time.
To make the sauce, in a medium bowl whisk the broth, bourbon, apple cider, mustard, maple syrup and vinegar together. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large cast-iron skillet or similar oven proof pan, over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp of bacon grease or oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and sage and continue to cook until the apples begin to brown and the onions are soft, about 5 more minutes.
Scrape all the onions, apples and sage into the bowl with the sauce ingredients and set aside while you cook the pork.
Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and season generously with the salt and pepper. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. bacon grease or oil to pan, and when it’s hot, add the pork to the pan. Make sure the pan isn’t crowded, otherwise the meat will steam rather than sear. If necessary, brown the pork in batches. Sear the pork on the first side without moving them until they are deeply golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Flip the meat, and sear on the second side for another 3-5 minutes.
Place skillet in preheated oven. Begin checking with a meat thermometer after 7-8 minutes, as mine was at 150 degrees in 8 minutes and you don’t want to overcook the meat. Pork should always have a bit of pink in the centre. Place meat on a serving platter, cover with foil while you finish the sauce.
BE VERY CAREFUL when taking this pan out of the oven and you continue to cook with it on the stovetop. The handle is EXTREMELY hot and will continue to stay hot for a while, so place a pot holder or kitchen towel over the handle to remind yourself that it’s very hot. Unfortunately, I can say this from experience as I instinctively touched a hot handle once and burnt my hand!
With the skillet set over medium heat, add the onions, apples and sauce to the hot skillet. The sauce will bubble up. Stir and cook until it thickens slightly and all the onions and apples are heated, and apples have softened to your preference, about 5 minutes. Pour the pan sauce over the meat. Serve immediately.