February 15, 2012

Georgia Bourbon Pork Tenderloin

As if I could upstage last week's cheese grits. 

We were in Atlanta all weekend, meeting my precious two-month-old nieces, staying warm during an unexpected hard freeze, and cooking breakfasts of biscuits and waffles, whole wheat concoctions of oatmeal cookies and icing, and this amazingly tasty pork dish, which will from this day forward be known as Georgia Pork.

This succulent tenderloin, marinated with rich bourbon, dark coffee, and blackstrap molasses, also comes from the hallowed kitchen of Sara Foster. Rubbed with freshly-picked rosemary and accompanied by heaps of roasted kale and asparagus, this pork loin was the perfectly easy dinner to make on a sleepy Saturday of holding babies and ginger-colored dogs.

It was hard to leave Atlanta, mainly because of my super gorgeous twin niecelets and their ginger dog sisters, but also for the big kitchen, outdoor grill, and ample cooking surfaces that we enjoyed all weekend long. Not to mention a houseful of cooking enthusiasts and a coffee pot that never seemed to be empty. We decided to make this pork dish because everything was magically in the house, including two pounds of pork loin. (Well, there was a special trip to the neighborhood liquor store, but bourbon needed to be bought anyway.) Lesson learned: always keep pork in the freezer, coffee in the pot, and molasses in the pantry. And of course ingredients for cheese grits.

 Who could resist these sweet faces? This tenderloin will always remind me of my early days as an aunt.  Good times that will only get better!

Bourbon Pork Tenderloin
Adapted (yet again) from Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen

Two 1-pound pork tenderloins
1/3 cup strong black coffee, room temperature
1/3 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh rosemary, 3-4 stalks, leaves diced, with extra leaves for garnish

Wash and dry the pork and trim excess fat. Set aside.

To make the marinade, whisk together coffee, bourbon, molasses, vinegar, oil, and rosemary. Place pork loins in a large Ziplock bag and pour marinade on top. Seal and shake slightly, making sure the pork is completely coated. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

After pork has marinated, heat grill to medium. Remove pork from bag and reserve marinade. Season each loin with salt and pepper and place on grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, basting every couple of minutes with reserved marinade. Turn grill off and cover pork with foil for a few minutes. The pork interior should reach about 145 to 150 F, depending on your choice of doneness (Ms. Foster recommends 145 F for medium and 160 F for medium-well). 

Transfer pork to cutting board but keep covered with foil so that the pork juices have time to mellow and warm. Use this mellowing time prepare your green vegetables. We roasted big pans of kale and asparagus, but the greens from last week would also be amazing, as would spinach, broccoli, or roasted brussels sprouts. My head spins when thinking about this pork paired with cheese grits.

Slice into 1" to 2" pieces, garnishing with more fresh rosemary as needed. Serve warm with crusty bread and greens. 

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