Maple and Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin

2-4 lbs pork boneless sirloin or tenderloin roast

spice rub:
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon or hard apple cider (see note below)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp lard or olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green apple, cored and sliced

1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels; combine the spice rub ingredients, then rub all over the pork. Let sit at room temperature as you preheat your oven to 225F.

2. Transfer the pork to an oven-friendly stainless steel or cast-iron skillet, then place in the oven and roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 135F, as indicated by an internal probe thermometer (see note below), about 90 minutes. As the pork roasts, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and simmer until dark and thickened, about 15 minutes. Set the glaze aside.

3. Remove the cooked pork and set on a cutting board to rest; loosely tent with tin foil. Increase the oven temperature to 500F. As the oven heats, place the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, and add the lard, onion, and a few sprinkles of salt; sauté until the onions are softened and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the apple slices then place the pork and any accumulated juices on top, then brush the pork liberally with two layers of the glaze.

4. Roast until the pork is very dark and crispy on the outside, about 5 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve with the apple and onion slices plus any remaining glaze.

** I’ve heard some concerns about consuming bourbon, since while it is usually made from corn, it can sometimes be made from wheat, and therefore potentially cause issues for those with celiac disease. Most generally agree that the distillation process removes the gluten, there are some who still react to this liquor; in that case, be sure to use hard apple cider instead!

** When it comes to picking up an internal probe thermometer, you have two choices: a quick-read thermometer, or a remote thermometer. Each have their merits; quick-read thermometers are simple and cheap, but remote thermometers let you check the temperature without disturbing the cooking environment (critical in BBQ/smoking adventures). If you’re looking to buy one, and you’re into metrics, definitely get the remote thermometer, which lets you track the progress of your cooking in real-time.

** If you’re looking to create a complete meal, whip up some Basic Mashed Potatoes while the pork roasts in Step #2, then cover and keep warm as you finish the pork; sauté some fresh green beans or asparagus while the pork is in its final resting stage.

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