June 18, 2016

Bourbon Cherry Pork Roast

In honor of Father's Day, my approaching 21st birthday, my family's love of all things bacon, and the gorgeous produce at the farmers' market, I have decided to make a bacon-wrapped pork loin with a sweet bourbon cherry glaze. It's one of those dishes made with just a handful of unpretentious ingredients that somehow manages to be incredibly impressive. This is probably about as fancy as wrapping things in bacon gets, people.

It starts with one big pork tenderloin. If you want to speed the cooking or just can't find one big enough for your family, it's fine to make a few smaller ones as long as you adjust the cooking times accordingly. One of my few qualms (ok, probably my only one) with wrapping things in bacon is that you have to find the balance between crispy bacon and properly cooked meat. Normally 375F just gets you soggy bacon, but here it's cooked long enough on the pork that any higher would burn it. And if it's not quite crisp enough for you, then you can always throw the whole hunk of pork in a big skillet to finish it off.

If you're worried about the bacon falling off, you can use kitchen twine to hold it all together. I've found that overlapping the bacon slightly (anything that overlaps won't get too crispy so I try to minimize it) and placing the pork loin seam-side down generally keeps it all in place. Given how much I love bacon, I tried to keep the other seasonings minimal. There's just a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme, but you can always add some cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick.

The sauce will mellow out any heat you add to the pork. It's a luscious, velvety combination of bourbon, sweet molasses, and tart cherries. They simmer together to form a thick glaze with juicy bites of fruit. Normally fruits and meats don't go too well together, but pork is such a nice canvas for summer fruits (like this bourbon peach barbecue recipe) that it's worth a try if you're feeling a bit skeptical.  You can also just wrap the pork in the bacon and serve the sauce on the side if some of your guests aren't feeling too adventurous. I personally say just go for it and drown the crispy piggy goodness in the sauce, and throw in an extra splash of bourbon while you're at it.

1 1/2 lbs Pork Tenderloin
8 Strips Bacon
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
1/2 Cup Bourbon
1/2 Cup Molasses
1/4 tsp Salt (plus extra for seasoning the pork)
2 Cups Cherries, Halved & Pitted

Heat oven to 375F.

Season the pork with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the thyme. Wrap in the bacon and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes. If necessary, transfer to a skillet over medium-high heat to crisp the bacon.

Meanwhile, whisk the bourbon, molasses, and salt together with 1 cup of water. Simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cherries and cook for another 4 minutes. Serve the sauce over the pork.

Serves 4

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