On-the-Spot Succulent Success

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Amy’s Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Some of us routinely plan out our weekly meals. Some of us don’t, but most of the time we have dinners in mind, calling upon old favorites like Fabulous Pork Butt, taking the opportunity to make a friend’s new recipe like Kathi’s Great Salad, or using the ingredients in the refrigerator or freezer to make a pot of “Everything” soup. However, sometimes none of that works out, as was the case last night. Here’s what transpired.

I come home from work. I change my clothes, feed the cats, put wood in the stove, and sit down on the sofa. I look through my snail mail and then power up the laptop to check email and what’s new at gfe. In the back of my mind, I am thinking what am I going to serve for dinner? There’s that pork tenderloin I purchased half price recently that I just thawed in the refrigerator, but do I really feel like cooking that? I’m feeling lazy. There’s baked potato soup from last night and some ham quiche from the night before. Will hubby go for either of those? I wonder. I had the potato soup for lunch. It’s very good, but I really don’t think I want it again for dinner. The quiche is good, but that’s not what I really want either.

So it looks like dinner needs to be the pork loin. I peruse all my pork loin recipes on my laptop, in my recipe box, and a stack of recipes printed out from the computer. Will any of them work? Do any of them sound good? I read through them … marinate 4 hours—definitely not tonight; marinate 2 hours-better, but nope, it’s already six o’clock; a crock pot recipe-out; a peppery pork loin recipe that I’ve made once before—no, not in the mood for that one. Google to the rescue (I hope) … my search immediately takes me to About.com’s Southern Food section and the pork tenderloin recipes. I scan the list. Hmmm, Pork Tenderloin with Maple Glaze—that sounds really good! Will it require ingredients that I have on hand or can adapt? Will it be gfe (naturally gluten free) or easy to convert to gfe? I click on the link hopefully. I scan the ingredients: pork—check! seasoning blend of herbs-check! salt–check! pepper-check! butter—check! olive oil—check! maple syrup-check! apple cider vinegar-check! and, finally, Dijon mustard—check! Score: 100% Fantastic—gfe, it is! Brown rice and cranberry chutney are suggested as side dishes. Hooray! There’s leftover brown rice in the fridge. No cranberry chutney (or ingredients to make it), but some leftover peas sound better to me this evening anyway.

I follow the recipe, cooking the pork loin in my largest skillet, removing and returning the loin after making an easy reduction sauce (don’t be intimidated by that term if you rarely cook) using the pork loin “juice” and scrapings, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. As the pork loin cooks, the smell is fantastic … a sort of sweet smokiness that fills the house. I make a few adjustments from the original recipe as I cook.


Pork Tenderloin with Maple Glaze 
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

2 pork tenderloins (total of 2 to 3 pounds)

1 clove garlic, halved

1 tsp herb seasoning blend (or Cajun seasoning blend–I used a seasoned salt that is full of herbs and flavor)

pepper, to taste

salt, if seasoning blend is salt free

2 tsp butter

2 tsp olive oil

6 tbsp pure maple syrup

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

salt and pepper, optional

Trim pork of any fat and membrane.

Rub pork tenderloins with garlic halves, then rub seasoning blend all over, and pepper. If seasoning is salt free, sprinkle with little sea salt.

In a small bowl, combine 6 tbsp maple syrup, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, and the Dijon or brown mustard. Stir to blend thoroughly. Set aside.

Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot and foamy. Add pork tenderloins and cook, turning, until brown on all surfaces, about 12 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until temperature of pork in the center of loin shows 150 degrees. Turn occasionally as needed. This phase of cooking takes a good 30 minutes longer in my experience.

Transfer pork to platter; cover to keep warm.

Add 2 tbsp vinegar to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits (if you can resist eating them all!). Reduce heat to medium-low.

Return pork to skillet; add maple syrup mixture that you set aside and turn pork in glaze to coat well. About 5 minutes works best for coating and further reduction.

Remove from heat. Transfer pork to cutting board. Cut pork into ½-inch slices. Stir 1 tbsp maple syrup into the glaze. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

Arrange sliced pork on plates or platter. Spoon glaze over pork and serve. Original recipe notes that this pork is wonderful with rice (it was!) and Cranberry Chutney (another naturally gf recipe—and, even though I wasn’t in the mood for it last night, it does look very tasty!)


Note again that I didn’t have to go to a gluten-free cookbook to find this recipe. It’s just a regular recipe that is naturally gluten free. This approach is the gfe one. The ingredients are “real” and simple, and the results, superb.

My husband shared his assessment: “I don’t think I’ve ever had pork tenderloin so tender. There is no English to describe it. You couldn’t go to a restaurant and get tenderloin that good.” LOL on the “no English” part (I think the man is buttering me up for something!), but; otherwise, I have to agree! Often to get pork this tender, it has to be falling apart. That doesn’t affect the taste usually, but it certainly affects the presentation. Fortunately, with this recipe, that is not the case (as you can see from the picture). This is a wonderful and elegant recipe to make when hosting friends or sharing a home-cooked meal with others.

I must admit I am posting this recipe with a bit of trepidation, but bemused trepidation. I will never forget how much I laughed when Shauna, the Gluten-Free Girl, shared disparaging comments from a reader on her blog. I am wondering if I will quickly get labeled the same way … after all I have posted two pork recipes in a month’s time! But I promise, I have many more recipes to share and they are not all about succulent swine. There’s a “yard bird” recipe coming soon, plus one of those “death by chocolate” recipes we desperately need from time to time, and of course, the promised “everything” soup.

Finally, how about your approach to meal planning … do you ever go through this same process trying to figure out what to cook for dinner? Do you look for that recipe that both appeals and contains the ingredients you have on hand? Do you semi-plan your meals around what’s on sale and/or what strikes your fancy that week? How much do the seasons/weather play a role in what you eat? It seems we definitely eat more pork, and meat in general, in the winter. (By the way, Ali at Gluten-Free Whole Foods  just did an excellent post where she talked about the benefits of eating seasonally and one’s “ideal meal.”) Please share your thoughts. :-)

Not just gf, but gfe!

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21 Responses to “On-the-Spot Succulent Success”

  1. Jennifer Brown on January 30th, 2009 11:10 pm

    Wow…this recipe looks great! Can’t wait to try it out… so far we have loved everything we’ve tried…thanks!!

  2. Jennifer on January 31st, 2009 9:08 am

    I am going to make this tonite! I love the ease, and the flavors.

  3. Shirley on January 31st, 2009 10:30 am

    Jennifer B–Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I am thrilled that you are having such wonderful success with the recipes. See … there’s a world of fabulous, naturally GF food for everyone to enjoy! ;-) P.S. I owe you an email—I started it, just have to finish it … but I will, I promise.

    Jennifer–Yes, the flavors are awesome. Please let us know what you think after you try it!

  4. Gluten Free Steve on January 31st, 2009 10:35 am

    It’s settled – you can make this when the Artist and I come for dinner. Pork is always so flavorful and this recipe sounds great.

  5. Shirley on January 31st, 2009 11:45 am

    Steve–Terrific–just let me know when you will be in our neck of the woods! :-)


  6. noble pig on January 31st, 2009 11:47 am

    I have always been a fan of maple anything…this sounds delicious! The golden brown color is very appetizing.

  7. Shirley on January 31st, 2009 1:59 pm

    noble pig–Cathy, yes, maple provided a fabulous flavor—nothing duplicates that unique sweetness. This tenderloin was really lovely. I thought the picture captured the golden glistening brown, but still it didn’t do it true justice. I always say “if only the camera could take the picture exactly as we see it”! However, perhaps our fondness for certain dishes would “color” them more favorably than they are in reality. ;-)


  8. Nance on January 31st, 2009 7:29 pm

    I love pairing maple with pork. Sometimes, I toss peaches in there, too, while I’m reducing the syrup. Very yummy.

  9. Jennifer on January 31st, 2009 8:41 pm

    All right, I did make it. And Smokey is right. Even my picky, picky husband said it was good, twice. The sauce is delicious. I will make this one oftern

  10. H.Peter on January 31st, 2009 8:48 pm

    That is a very fine post of yours. Besides the excellent food.

    In our house we split cooking duties and i am more the ‘winging it” type of foodie, whereas Victoria likes to lay out sort of a plan.
    rarely ever do we use recipes though, we just fix something.

    Your maple glaze does sound good and I made some mental notes.

  11. Shirley on January 31st, 2009 11:42 pm

    Nance–Yum, peaches … dessert WITH dinner! Great idea!

    Jennifer–A real review … very cool! So glad it was a success for you. Love hearing that your husband couldn’t help but praise it!

    H.Peter–Why thank you very much! I truly appreciate your comments. I think a mix of cooking styles can be a good thing! Hope you’ll report back after you’ve given the maple glaze a try.


  12. Jennifer smith on November 16th, 2011 7:03 pm

    Made it again! Delish!!

    • Shirley on November 17th, 2011 8:34 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jennifer! This recipe blows people away when I make it for them. :-)


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