Apple Cider-Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

pinit fg en rect gray 28 Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

Cut Shot square 797 Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

I almost never cook pork these days without brining it first. The difference in the finished texture and even the flavor is dramatic. Brined pork is fork tender and juicy, no matter how lean the cut, and evenly seasoned all the way through.

To brine pork (or chicken), you simply cover the pork with 1 tablespoon fine sea salt and 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 1 quart of ice cold water and let it macerate for at least 6 hours in the coldest part of the refrigerator. I typically frig it for much longer, ocassionally up to 3 days, with no ill effect. I always add spices and herbs to the brine as well, which are then magically transported into the meat at the perfect subtle level. You can experiment with whole pepper, rosemary, bay leaf, allspice berries, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, orange peel, or garlic.

With a large bunch of rhubarb from Portland Farmers Market and a couple of pork tenderloins from City Market on hand, I was about to pour a standard salt-sugar-water brine over the pork when Maui Jim said, “Wait, we have apple cider. Why not brine the pork in that?” Eureka! And this from a guy who can barely make his way around the kitchen, except at breakfast, when he magically seems to know exactly what he is doing.

Rockridge Apple Cider 797 Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

I am now in love with this apple cider brine. You can actually taste the apple flavor in the meat. With just a hint of cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, this pork tenderloin is incredibly delicious.

We had it for dinner tonight with the following irresistable rhubarb sauce, served over a bed of lightly braised (with a little chicken stock, olive oil and garlic) Brussels sprouts raab.

Tomorrow, we will slice it thinly (lots left over) and pile it into a couple of Pearl Bakery baguettes with a little aioli and Earth and Vine’s Tangerine Habanero Mustard.

MauiJim is very proud of himself.


Rhubarb 797 Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

Apple Cider-Brined Tenderloin of Pork with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce

The sweet flavor of pork has a natural affinity with acidic fruit flavors, as in this rhubarb-cider sauce, and also with spices, such as allspice and cloves, which are used here in an apple cider brine.

The key to this dish is in not overcooking the pork; it should be nicely rosy in the center, very juicy and tender. And yes, it is quite safe to eat it this way and so much preferable to the dried-out, stringy stuff we are so often served in the name of pork.

 

2 whole pork tenderloins (preferably about 9 ounces each and 9-inches long)

Apple Cider Brine

2 cups apple cider

1 tablespoons fine sea salt

1 tablespoons sugar

½ cinnamon stick, broken

1 teaspoon whole allspice

½ teaspoon whole cloves

2 cups trimmed, diced rhubarb
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup low-salt chicken stock

1 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup low-salt chicken stock

fine sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

sugar, to taste

  1. Trim all fat from the tenderloins and reserve.
  2. To brine the pork, in a mixing bowl, combine the brine ingredients, and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  3. Place the tenderloins in a glass baking dish and pour the brine over them.
  4. Seal tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Rotate the tenderloins once or twice while brining.
  5. To make the sauce, in a small saucepan, combine the rhubarb and brown sugar, and let sit for 1 hour.
  6. Add 1 cup chicken stock and apple cider. Cook until rhubarb is actually disintegrating. Into a large measuring glass measuring cup, strain the sauce, pushing against the solids to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Reserve.
  7. Remove tenderloins from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.
  8. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil. Lay the tenderloins in the pan and brown deeply on all sides. (It’s fine to cut the tenderloins if they are too long for the pan.) This process usually requires about 8-10 minutes. Do this quickly so that the pork doesn’t cook all the way through.
  9. Drain the fat from the saute pan, and add the vinegar and ½ cup stock to the pan to deglaze.
  10. Cover the pan and braise slowly (just a bubble on the surface) until the internal temperature of the pork reads 145 degrees, about 12-18 minutes. (Pork is judged safe to eat at 137 degrees, but it is advisable to cook it somewhat beyond this point to be sure.)
  11. When the pork is done, remove from the pan and keep warm for a few minutes.
  12. Raise the heat and add the rhubarb sauce.
  13. Whisk and cook until thickened; the sauce should just coat a wooden spoon. (If desired, you can make a slurry with a teaspoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of stock and use it to thicken the sauce slightly.)
  14. Taste and then carefully season the sauce with salt, pepper, and additional sugar if needed.
  15. Strain sauce into a small saucepan. Keep warm.
  16. Cut the tenderloin into 3/4-inch medallions, arrange on one side of four individual warmed serving plates and pour the sauce under and around.
  17. If desired, serve with a quick braise of rapini or baby vegetables, such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots.
Serves 4.
pf button big Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce
About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

Comments

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  2. You need to even know which you are 1 dollar bills aren’t getting
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  4. Wow Thank you incredible recipe I am always looking for more recipes these are just yummy you get so tired of the same o same o day in day out

    Enjoy
    .-= don@spicesandherbs´s last blog ..Do Follow Blog, Comment Luv Keyword Luv =-.

    • Thank you, Don! Fresh rhubarb is only weeks away. I love this dish and will be making it myself as soon as I see those ruby red stalks at the farmers market. :-)

  5. Where have you been all my life? Fantastic site and all my queries resolved. Duncan Hopeman

  6. That looks so incredibly appetizing! Have to look for some good Cider in Germany. Or would french cidre do? Think it might be too sweet though.

    Claudia´s last blog post..Analogkäse – ein Käseimitat

    • Thank you! :-) The cider used here is fresh cider, rsther than hard (alcoholic) cider, and it is naturally sweet with no sugar added. The slight sweetness permeates the pork and creates a wonderful effect. If you can’t find fresh apple cider, a premium quality apple juice with no sugar added will work here.

  7. The brined pork rocked! Thanks so much.

  8. My pork is in the brine and now you post straw and hay–this girl never met a pasta she didn’t like and now you do this–I am doomed for sure! No wild mushrooms to be had here tho.

    • Hi Radar! No wild mushrooms? Not to worry. Hydrate an ounce or so of dried porcinis, then drain and add to a saute of cultivated mushrooms (preferably crimini). Oh heck, this dish is delectable even with regular cultivated mushrooms. I’m like you: Never met a pasta dish I didn’t like. :-)

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