Maple syrup brine

Maple brined pork tenderloin

 

Adapted from a recipe by Scott Boggs at Food & Wine

 

 

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, plus freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

3 juniper berries

1/3 cup kosher salt, I used ¼ cup

2 cups apple cider

1/2 cups pure Grade A dark amber maple syrup

1/3 cup maple sugar (See Note)

6 garlic cloves, peeled

6 thyme sprigs

Four 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloins

 

In a medium saucepan, toast the 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns and juniper berries over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the salt and the apple cider, maple syrup, sugar, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and bring just to a simmer, stirring. Add 3 cups of cold water and pour the brine into a small roasting pan; let cool. Add the pork tenderloins, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours. I cut back on the salt since I was going to brine for 12 hours.

 

I just did two tenderloins and tied them in an even roll after brining to smoke. Rinse and dry the loins then season with your favorite seasoning, I use Cajun, and let it air dry an hour or two on a rack in the fridge.

 

Grill or smoke your favorite method, slow or fast, to an internal temperature of 145 to 150 deg. I did mine slow on my Traeger pellet smoker for 1 ½ hours. I started at 250 deg. grill level temp.45 minutes 300 deg. for 20 minutes and finished the last 25 minutes at 350 deg. for an IT of 145 deg. I used 100% hickory pellets.

 

I thought the maple syrup and a little heat from the Cajun seasoning went well together. I would have liked a little more intense flavor, maybe a longer brine time, a maple syrup glaze at the end, or a maple syrup sauce to pour over when serving. I did think this was the best pork tenderloin I have done, moist and fork tender.

 

Note: I could not find maple sugar so I used organic brown sugar. If you can find it, that may give a more intense flavor.

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