Fire-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Corn Cakes & Apple-Rum Compote
Pork tenderloin is a great, and often under-appreciated cut. It's fairly
inexpensive, easy to cook, healthy (with about the fat of boneless/skinless
/just-this-side-of-worthless chicken breast), and it's a wonderful blank
canvas for all manner of experimentation. It doesn't take much to elevate
this cut into something special, as I did here.
Pork tenderloin is very lean (thus the healthy part), so it really needs some
help in the moisture and flavor department. A brine is a great way to bring
both to the party. This cut is also a great candidate for a finishing glaze,
sauce, or in this case, a fruit compote. How can you possibly go wrong
with pork, apples and rum? It's a flavor trifecta!
For the starch in this dish I decided to try something completely new for
me -- corn cakes. I used a medium-grind corn meal along with creamed
corn to add a hearty and interesting textural component.
When you're shopping for pork I strongly recommend that you look for a
natural product that doesn't include "up to a 12% solution of (insert
chemicals here)". If you see a label with that kind of verbiage, warning Will
Robinson! If that's all you can find, just skip the brine.
This may look like a lot of work, but it really isn't.
2 Pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 lbs each
1/2 cup Kosher salt
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2 cup Boiling water
4 cups Ice
3 cups Apple cider
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Sweet paprika
2 tsp Ground ancho chile
1 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
3 medium Fuji or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced to 1/3"
2 cups Apple cider
1/3 cup Rum (I used Appleton)
1/3 cup Brown sugar
3 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1/4 tsp Groud cumin
1 cup Boiling water
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill® Medium Grind Cornmeal
1 cup Creamed corn
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking powder
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp Ground white pepper
Combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl, whisk well to combine,
and set aside.
Make the brine by combining all of the ingredients, except the ice and cider
in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved, then
add the ice and cider.
Remove any silver skin and excess fat from each tenderloin. Put them in a
large baking dish or zip-top bag and cover completely with the brine.
Refrigerate for at least two, but no more than four hours.
Combine all of the compote ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to
Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Blend the compote lightly with an immersion blender. You want to leave
some small chunks. Cover and set aside.
About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, remove the tenderloins from
the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Put them in a baking dish or
on a platter and coat all sides with a medium coating of the rub then set
Prepare your grill for two-zone cooking (direct and indirect)
heat (about 400º).
While you're waiting for the grill, make the corn cake batter by wisking all
of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Cook the tenderloins indirect until they reach an internal temperature 120º,
about 15 minutes, flipping once.
While the tenderloins are cooking, make the corn cakes.
Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet to medium-high, and your oven to warm
Make the cakes by pouring the batter in about 5" rounds on the griddle or
in the skillet. Cook them until all of the large bubbles pop, then flip them
over and cook about 90 seconds longer. Keep the cakes warm in the oven.
When the tenderloins have reached an internal temperature of about 120º
move them to the direct portion of the grill and sear them for about two
minutes per side.
Remove the tenderloins to a platter, tent loosely with foil and let them rest
for five minutes.
Cut the tenderloin across the grain into 1/4" medallions, plate on two corn
cakes, and top with a good helping of the compote.
Serve and enjoy!