This recipe started out as a dish for two friends who came over for dinner one night this summer. I’ve been brining and pan-roasting chicken breasts for months because I love how tender and juicy it makes them, but since I had just served that to one of our guests at another dinner just a few weeks beforehand, I figured I should use a different meat this time. I ended up making a wild mushroom sauce to go with the pork, but this week, when I made it again just for D and me, I thought something sweeter and less heavy would be nice; hence the lambic glaze.
Brining the pork beforehand will make the juiciest tenderloin you’ve ever had. D said it had the texture of filet mignon, yet it tasted like pork. Awesome. Plus, it's super easy. Over half of the ingredients are just for the quickly stirred-together brine. The only real components you need for the recipe itself are brined pork, lambic, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
I served this with a skilletful of sautéed corn with basil, garlic, and Parmesan (which I'll post soon) and Laura Calder's recipe (from French Food at Home) for Roasted Cumin Carrots. If you don't like peach lambic, I'll bet the black cherry (or "Kriek") flavor would be really good, too.
roasted pork tenderloin with peach lambic glaze
1 pork tenderloin (a little over a pound)
1 quart cold water
1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 large (or 3 to 4 small) bay leaves, broken in half
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 bottle peach lambic
freshly ground pepper
Brine the pork tenderloin: In a large bowl, whisk together water, salt, and sugar until they’re completely dissolved. Stir in peppercorns, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves. Cut off all visible fat and gristle from the tenderloins, and then rinse with clean water. Add the pork to the brine, and use your fingers to press the spices into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
About a half-hour before cooking time, remove pork tenderloin from refrigerator. Be sure to remove all the peppercorns. Rinse the meat well with clean water, and pat very dry. Crack some pepper over top of it (no salt - that's in the brine). Put it on a plate, cover it, and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Make peach lambic glaze: pour an entire bottle of peach lambic into a saucepan. Over medium to medium-high heat, boil gently until it’s reduced to a third of what you started with and is the consistency of a syrup. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar if you like it a little more sweet than tart. Otherwise, it’s done.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high to high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When it begins to smoke a bit, add the pork and sear well on both sides (peppering the other side when you turn it) until it’s well-browned, a couple of minutes per side.
Take the skillet off the stove and immediately put it in the preheated oven. Roast the pork for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once and basting once or twice with the lambic reduction, until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches 135 or so degrees. (I know they say 140 or 145, but trust me, it will come out perfectly medium-well this way.)
Remove to a plate, tent the meat with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice it into thick rounds. Save the glaze and pan juices and drizzle them over the top of the pork slices.