Pork Fillet with a Maple Balsamic Glaze


The same weekend Andy announced he fancied quesadillas, he also decided he fancied some “glazed pork”. Hmmm, what cut of pork and what type of glaze?

These were questions to which he did not have answers. So I started trawling the internet for glazed pork recipes. Naturally, there are many variations on the honey and soy type glaze which I didn’t really feel like but when I came across a recipe for fillet (tenderloin for US & some UK readers) with a maple syrup and balsamic vinegar glaze I figured I’d give it a go.

I posted my recipe for baked ham on Eating Leeds (sorry, the images have all gone as I let my real hosting lapse) and this also makes use of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup so I knew this very scary sounding combination was going to work.

While I did mess around with most of the recipe (of course!) I kept the glaze as written. One big difference was that I kept my piece of pork fillet whole – I was concerned that cutting it into medallions and finishing the cooking in the oven was going to result in some seriously dry pork.

Because I like doing as much as possible ahead of time, I actually seared the seasoned pork fillet in the afternoon and set it aside.

The glaze is just 2 tbsp of olive oil, ⅓ cup of balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup of maple syrup, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed/finely chopped) and some finely chopped rosemary. You could also make this in advance and I think that would probably be preferable. I didn’t actually get time though.

When it came to cooking time, I sliced some onions and very gently fried them in the pan I’d seared the pork before adding the pork, spooning over some of the glaze and putting it into a hot (200°C) oven. While it’s cooking, pull it out every now and then, turn it over and spoon over some more glaze.

Cook until the pork is done to your liking (I think our piece took about 30 minutes to cook) – and if you’re not impatient, allowing it to rest (covered in tin foil) is always a good thing.

We served with mashed potatoes and lightly steamed asparagus. The glaze and onions from the pan makes a wonderful sauce/dressing.

This glaze would also work brilliantly with other cuts of pork – particularly pork chops.

Pork Fillet with White Wine and Cream

Saturday 3 April

Pork is one of my favourite meats, and I’m often frustrated by people who claim it is dry and tough.  Like most things, it’s all in the cooking and if you insist on turning your piece of pork into a crisp then, yes, it is dry and tough.  But many people have a horror

I find pork fillet a little more tolerant than other cuts (with pork chops the most truculent), so even though it’s expensive I don’t find myself fretting when I cook it.

Unfortunately, though, pork fillet needs something doing to it … you can’t just fry it up and whack it on a plate like you can with a nice piece of steak. I turned to The Silver Spoon* for inspiration. This is a brilliant, Italian reference manual – most of the recipes are extremely simple, so you’ll either have all the ingredients for a dish or you’ll be able to muddle through with little difficulty. This is a great example of that simplicity.

First, heat some olive oil and butter in a pan and brown your pork fillet on all sides. Don’t play with it – pop it in the hot fat and leave it until it comes away of its own free will – that’s when it will be nicely brown. Once browned all over, put the pork in a baking dish and finish the cooking in a hot oven. At 180°C our 400g pork fillet took about 30 minutes: we did allow some resting time and we prefer our pork a little less cooked. If all else fails, jabbing a knife in the fattest part of the fillet should give you a good idea of how things are progressing.

While the pork is finishing in the oven, deglaze the pan with a generous splash of dry white wine** (I’d reckon at around the 100mL mark). Scrape up all the good brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reduce the wine by about half. Reduce the heat and add about 100mL of cream and a heaped teaspoon of grainy mustard. Stir or whisk to combine. You don’t need to be too fussed about quantities here – simply make as much sauce as you want and don’t forget to taste as you go along!

pork fillet with cream & mustard sauce

Set the sauce aside and reheat gently when the pork is ready. We served the fillet sliced on puy lentils, with roasted rosemary potato wedges. And, of course, the remainder of the bottle of white!

* The Silver Spoon is also available through Amazon US and Amazon UK.

** I’d recommend using a white with a bit of weight and acidity, to match and cut through the creamy sauce. On this occasion I used a Hunter Valley Semillon with rather too much age on it. A younger Semillon would work really well, as would a very lightly oaked Chardonnay.