Pork and apples go hand in hand, don't they? That image of a whole spit-roasted pig comes to mind with the apple stuck in its mouth. There is something special about the sweet taste of apples and the full flavor of pork that work so well together in a dish. Roasting the pork and apples together is the perfect way to marry the two flavors. That's exactly what I do in this pork roast recipe, which is flavored with honey, mustard, and rosemary. For this perfect flavor pairing, I roast tiny lady apples alongside the pork.
For a roast like this, pork tenderloin is the easiest to prepare and the most flavorful and moist. It's lean, roasts fast, and it stays tender, just as the name would suggest. The juices that collect in the pan go into the making of a gravy that has the flavor of the honey-Dijon rub, the rosemary, and the sweet apple juices. The rosemary sprigs that roast alongside the loins become crispy and are entirely edible, lending bursts of woddsy flavor to each bite. A meal such as this would be great for an elegant holiday dinner or even a simple Sunday supper.
Lady apples are an heirloom variety of small apples that are sweet and slightly tart. Supposedly they are one of the oldest apple varieties, dating back to biblical times. They were cultivated in Europe and made it to North America during Colonial times. The lady apple was considered a Christmas specialty as it ripened late in the season and stored very well through winter. What makes them great in this recipe is they bake fast either whole or cut in half. But cutting them and roasting them cut-side down helps them caramelize, adding more flavor to this wonderful pork roast.
Roasted Honey-Dijon Pork Tenderloins with Lady Apples and Rosemary
Note: If you can't find lady apples for this recipe, any apple cut into wedges would work fine. I would recommend pink lady apples, which taste most like lady apples.
2 pork tenderloins (about 2 to 3 pounds total), trimmed of fat and silver skin
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 sprigs rosemary
12 lady apples (about 2 pounds), halved
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock or water, heated
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine mustard, honey, minced rosemary, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Brush tenderloins with mixture and place on a large rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Lay rosemary sprigs around pork. Roast for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss the lady apples in lemon juice, then drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil. Remove the pork from the oven and arrange apple halves cut-side down around loins. Return pan to oven and lower heat to 375 degrees F. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of one loin, reads between 135 and 140 degrees F. Carefully remove apple halves to a plate. Remove pork loins to a carving board and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium heat. Add flour to pan juices and cook, stirring until a thick, slightly darkened paste forms. Pour heated stock, a little at a time, whisking until gravy forms. Cook for 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Check for seasoning. Slice pork 1/2-inch thick. Spoon gravy over pork. Serve with lady apples and rosemary. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.