For a Change, Easter Dinner Pork Roast with Mustard and Maple Syrup Glaze

Ham and lamb traditionally grace the Easter Dinner table along with scalloped potatoes, maybe asparagus, salad, and just because it is a special occasion, dinner rolls. Both make grand centerpiece roasts and if one of them is your favorite, I won’t talk you out of it. You might, however, like a change and this way of fixing a pork roast produces delicious and moist meat.

Lots of people brine roasts before putting them into the oven. The time spent in a salty liquid often improves meat’s moisture content. At Thanksgiving, some brine whole turkeys because breast meat is notorious for drying out. I’ve seen instructions for brining everything from chickens to shrimp and, in addition to salt, lots of recipes call for seasonings that hitch a ride on the brine to improve the overall flavor.

I chose a four-pound boneless loin roast with a fairly thin layer of fat left on top. I tried a cider and salt brine with mustard seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Since the folks who dined on the roast complimented the tender moist meat, I expect it helped. You could make brining optional. I had cider frozen from our apple pressing last fall which made me feel like I could blow a couple cups of it merely for soaking the roast in, and another cup or so to cover the bottom of the baking pan I roasted the pork in.

The mustard, maple syrup, and brown sugar glaze, on the other hand, really finished it beautifully and there was enough to spread on cut slices of meat as  sauce.

If you decide to go the brining route, combine half a cup of kosher salt with a quarter cup of brown sugar, two cups of cider, and one cup of water. Add a tablespoon each of peppercorns, mustard seeds, and a bay leaf. Heat it until the salt and sugar dissolves, then cool completely. Add your roast, and leave it in the brine, turning it occasionally for about eight hours (overnight is fine, too). Some people put the meat and brine in a zip-closing plastic bag for the process. When you are ready to cook the meat, take it out of the brine, dry the surface with a paper towel, and let it sit for at least a half hour before proceeding with glazing and baking.

For a Change, Easter Dinner Pork Roast with Mustard and Maple Syrup Glaze
Serves: 6
  • 1 four to five-pound boneless pork roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup Dijon-style or grainy mustard
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup of cider or apple juice
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle the pork all over lightly with salt and several grinds of black pepper.
  3. Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan, and brown the meat on all sides.
  4. Place the pork in a baking dish or roasting pan.
  5. Mix together the mustard, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a small bowl.
  6. Spread the mustard mixture all over the roast, top and sides.
  7. Pour a cup of cider into the dish or pan, just about enough to cover the bottom.
  8. Roast the pork for about an hour, spreading a fresh layer of mustard mixture about half way through the roasting time.
  9. Test the roast for an interior temperature of 140 degrees (or more if you prefer.)
  10. Use extra mustard mixture as a condiment on the roasted meat.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.