Today I attended the 25th Annual Sugarbush Pancake Brunch at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The pancakes were delicious (though not as fluffy as Dad’s) and the sausages, dipped in a little maple syrup, were divine.
Devouring pancakes this morning at the Arboretum was a good way to start the day, if only to stop me from getting the shakes. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re on day 15 of March Maple Madness and all these maple recipes don’t just make and eat themselves. This is a lot of work people! And at the end of this, I might just need an IV drip of maple syrup to keep me going. Thankfully, though, I do have great friends who are helping me out with this challenge so I don’t have to suffer too much. Last night we enjoyed a simply wonderful bacon wrapped pork loin. The key to this recipe is, you guessed it, maple syrup AND a nifty digital meat thermometer (which, incidentally, I bought in December to make maple cream candy. Maple brings many good things into my life, in addition to the sugar shakes).
This recipe is a bit time consuming, though commenters on Epicurious say that they skip the brining part, so do as you like!
Bacon-Wrapped Maple Pork Loin (from Epicurious)
For the brine:
8 cups water
1/4 c. salt
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. dried herbs de Provence
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 (4- to 4 1/2-lb) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
For roasting pork
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. herbs de Provence
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 pound bacon, sliced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Step 1: Prepare the brine
Put all ingredients except pork loin in a large stock pot and stir over high heat until salt is dissolved. Transfer hot liquid into a 4 qt. bowl or pot and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours (I let mine cool for about 20 minutes, but then made an ice bath in the sink to help the cooling process along. It took about an hour, total). Add the pork loin to the room temperature brine. Cover and refrigerate for about 8 – 16 hours, or in my case, as long as it takes to buy a new car – about 5 to 6 hours.
Step 2: Roast the pork.
Preheat oven to 350º. Take the pork out of the refrigerator. Discard brine and rinse pork and pat dry. Place pork in a roasting pan. Then, mix garlic, herbs de Provence and 1 Tbsp. of maple syrup together in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over pork loin. Then, place bacon strips crosswise over the pork, tucking ends underneath.
Roast pork until nifty meat thermometer reads 140º, about 1 – 1 1/4 hours. While pork is roasting, mix 1 Tbsp maple syrup and apple cider vinegar together. When pork reaches 140º, brush maple syrup mixture over bacon slices. Place back in oven and continue roasting until thermometer reads 150º.
Remove pork from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes. Slice and spoon juices from roasting over pork. VVG!