An ice cold root beer is one of life's great little joys. Root beer is the epitome of folksy so it is no surprise that it is showing up more and more in country inspired dishes from pulled pork to cupcakes. I've enjoyed my share of root beer straight from the bottle and decided it was high time to play around with it as an ingredient myself.
Root Beer Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin was one of the many recipes I flagged to make in my current favorite cookbook, "Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen." I've already raved about this book here and here and don't think I'm done. Every page has an interesting twist on an ingredient that I grew up. It truly is new Southern cooking.
Preparation of this pork couldn't be easier. Simple whisk together some root beer and molasses and marinate the meat. Sear it in a pan. Before I go on, I want to talk about molasses. Not a fan. I have a hard time getting past the smell and prefer its sweeter cousin, sorghum, and will use that in the future.
The pork can be glazed with a jalapeno sauce, but that wasn't going fly with the people I feed. I did want to add the Apple Salsa and am so glad I did. The pork on its own was very good; tender, slightly sweet, and slightly smoky. But a scattering of salsa brought this dish to life with its beautiful colors, rich flavors, and myriad of textures. The crisp apple against the tender meat was delicious. I substituted some chipotle powder for the poblano pepper called for in the recipe and it added the perfect hint of heat and smokiness.
An easy, yet impressive, recipe that was enjoyed by all.
Root Beer Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Salsa
adapted from "Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen" by Elizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus
For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
12 ounces root beer
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup Apple Salsa (recipe follows)
Cut the tenderloin diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the root beer and molasses, mixing thoroughly. Pour over the pork loin. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour. Heat the canola oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Drain and discard the liquid from the pork. Lightly pat the pork with paper towels to remove the excess liquid. Place the pork slices in the hot oil, searing for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve immediately topped with salsa.
1 Granny Smith apple, diced finely
1/4 cup red bell pepper, seeded and diced finely
1 large shallot, diced finely
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Combine the apples, pepper, and shallot in a bowl. Add the honey, salt, chipotle pepper, pepper, and parsley. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.