Chipotle peppers are a gift to mankind. Be it a chipotle pepper, chipotle seasoning, chipotles in adobo sauce. Smoky and spicy, the flavor known as chipotle can be subtle heat or in-your-face hot. Whether it’s the leading flavor (like in this recipe for today) or a supporting character, it’s always delicious. I’ve been on a chipotle kick (not the restaurant… except for dinner last night, but that’s neither here nor there), so stay tuned for another chipotle-based recipe later this week.
I’ve made this chipotle-spiced pork twice now, and it was easily just as tasty the second time around! I smashed two recipes from Epicurious together to come up with the glaze, because I don’t like maple syrup enough to want it to make up half of the glaze, so I cut it slightly with honey, although agave nectar would also work. This glaze would be great on plenty of things beyond pork… I’m planning to make another batch soon and try it on salmon. And sweet potato fries. And corn on the cob this summer as the original recipe says one should do! One batch should make enough glaze for two recipes, so save some or try it on something new. As a bonus, I verified that the glaze can be frozen and then used over a month later. Unfortunately that means I am kind of lacking on the picture front for the glaze-making process, my apologies. It’s simple though! And when I do make another batch I’ll come back and add some photos.
Turn the oven on to 450, and then prep the glaze first. Start by opening a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Savor the smell of that delightful spicy tomato sauce for a second. OK, now come back to earth. Welcome! Now remove two or three of those peppers from the can letting some of the sauce drip off into the can. How many you use will all depend on how spicy you like things. Use a knife to pull out the membranes and seeds, which will take the heat down a notch. The sweet parts of the sauce will also tame the peppers a little, but you don’t want to overdo it. I started with two and added another half later. Now go wash your hands really thoroughly before you accidentally touch your face… peppers will make your eyes burn something fierce.
Take the papery skins off of two or three garlic cloves, depending on how big they are. I used three small ones. Place the peppers and garlic into a food processor and pulse until they are in little bitty pieces. Or mince them by hand until they are really, really small. You don’t want anyone to feel like they are breathing fire because they bit into a really big piece of a pepper.
Next, start melting your butter. If you do this on the stove top, place the butter, maple syrup (please use the real stuff for this, Aunt Jemima’s isn’t going to cut it), and honey or agave nectar into a little pot and melt, stirring frequently. Add the garlic/chipotle mixture and stir until it’s all mixed up, then let it simmer until it reduces partway. Or you can do it in the microwave, melting the butter partway before adding the honey and maple syrup, since you won’t be able to stir it as frequently. Add the peppers and garlic when it comes out of the microwave and can all easily be stirred together. In the microwave the sauce won’t reduce as much, but I’ve done it this way before and it still works.
And don’t worry if your glaze doesn’t look exactly like mine… because this batch was frozen and then thawed, the butter separated a little and can be seen in mine. Your fresh glaze should look smoother than this and a little shiny, with lovely little pieces of chipotle peppers and garlic.
Now it’s time to prep the pork. Take your tenderloin out of its package and trim any excess fat. Then season the whole thing with salt and pepper.
Move the pork to a baking sheet covered in foil (this will make cleaning the pan easier), and start to coat the whole thing with the glaze. Unless you live in an apartment that is the size of a dollhouse, like mine, you can use a regular sized pan and leave your pork in one piece. I however, have no oven, and am always trying to make real meals in a toaster oven (albeit a very nice one), so I had to cut mine in half. If you live in a dollhouse like me and still try to cook regularly, I feel your pain and respect you immensely.
When both sides are nicely coated, place the pork in the oven for roughly twenty minutes (it took a little longer in my little oven). Even better, use an instant read meat thermometer to tell when the pork reaches 155 degrees to ensure that it’s done.If necessary turn the pan around halfway through to make sure it cooks evenly, and you can even brush it with more glaze, although that isn’t necessary. Remove it from the oven when done. The glaze should caramelize slightly and look lovely!
Like most meats, pork tenderloins should be allowed to rest for a few minutes before slicing them, to give them time to absorb all of their juices before you cut them. Give this pork at least five minutes. Then slice, and enjoy!
Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Epicurious, Chipotle-Honey-Glazed Pork and Maple-Chipotle Glaze
pork tenderloin, fat trimmed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
3 garlic cloves (2 if particularly large)
2 or 3 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce)
1. Heat oven to 450. Remove seeds and membranes from chipotle peppers. Place chipotle peppers and garlic in a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped, or carefully mince until very small. (Determine number used by your tolerance for spice. Adding adobo sauce will up the heat.)
2. Melt butter in microwave, adding maple syrup and honey when almost done. Microwave another 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, and stir in chipotle pepper/garlic mixture and salt until well combined. OR combine all ingredients (excluding salt) in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and combined. Stir in salt after removing from heat.
3. Prep the tenderloin. Trim excess fat, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place tenderloin on foil covered baking sheet.
4. Coat tenderloin on all sides with glaze. There should be enough glaze for two tenderloins. Bake until internal temperature reaches roughly 155 degrees when checked with thermometer, roughly 20 minutes depending on size and oven. If tenderloin appears to brown more quickly on one side, turn halfway through cooking. Optional: quickly remove from oven at 10 minutes and brush with more glaze.
5. Remove the tenderloin from the oven, and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve!