Miso Hungry...

I try really hard to avoid monotony in my meal planning. Even the recipes we enjoy the most don't come into rotation very often, though Justin always seems very excited to see them when they do. Between my ongoing effort to try new recipes and expand my repertoire of dishes and skills, and my attempts to base what we eat around what's on sale at the grocery store, we end up with very little repetition in our diet. I honestly can't understand how some people eat the same rotation of meals week after week; a "Taco Tuesday" here, a "Clear Out the Fridge Friday" there, ad infinitum. I could maybe see living that way if you had kids who were picky eaters, but otherwise, that lifestyle would be anathema to me.

Thus, when I spotted an unbeatable deal on pork tenderloin at the grocery store this week, after we just had it last week, I knew I would have to find another way to prepare it. I couldn't turn down the price, but that didn't mean we needed to have the same meal in such a short period of time. While the last recipe I made was firmly within my comfort zone, (in fact, it was practically identical to the pork roast recipe I've been making lately), this time I chose a recipe that called for unfamiliar ingredients in a seemingly unusual combination. I was curious to see how they would play together.

Tonight's recipe called for the tenderloin to be brushed with a glaze made from miso, the Japanese soybean-derived paste, combined with apricot preserves, for sweetness. Fruit is a classic pairing for pork, but I was keen to see how the umami-rich miso would affect the balance of the dish. I'd never cooked with miso before, though I've eaten countless bowls of miso soup in my lifetime, so I was looking forward to experimenting with that as well. As I was reducing the glaze, I thought I could detect a buttery aroma emanating from the miso, but once the dish was complete, it didn't taste very strongly of the paste, other than a savory essence that was hard to pin down. The dominant flavor was, oddly enough, the orange zest, though the apricots added a pleasant sweet/tart element that rounded out the flavor profile.

The brightness from the vinegar in the glaze, coupled with the citrus made for a surprisingly light dish, for roasted meat. It was definitely a departure from the flavors that I usually pursue, but the dish made for a pleasant surprise. The meat was succulent, tender, and moist, and the sauce was a delicious, if unexpected accompaniment. I'd definitely consider this as a viable option for pork tenderloin in the future, if not the next time it goes on sale. After all, I have to keep things interesting...

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Miso Glaze
adapted from Bon Appétit

5 tablespoons apricot preserves
1/4 c. miso (red or white both work fine)
1/4 c. white wine or Champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 c. chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425°F.
1. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with oil spray. Combine preserves, miso, vinegar, orange peel, and garlic in small pot over medium heat. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reserve.
2. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet, tucking thin end under to ensure even cooking. Brush with 2 tablespoons apricot glaze; roast 12 to 15 minutes. Turn pork over with tongs and brush with 3 more tablespoons glaze. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
3. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add chicken broth to remaining apricot glaze. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup sauce, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Slice pork crosswise into 1/2- to 3/4- inch-thick slices and arrange on platter. Spoon sauce over and serve.

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