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Food Network Favorites: Seared Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa-Spice Rub

A very good, albeit slightly too salty, spice rub for pork from Michael Chiarello. The sweetness of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves combine with the richness of unsweetened cocoa powder and white peppercorns for complex, sweet-savory flavor.

I realize that Mario Batali is getting short shrift, and all I can say is: his recipes aren't looking appealing. I'm ready to be done with Food Network Favorites, so Batali is going to have to be the one that got away.

As with Bobby Flay's recipe for pork tenderloin, Michael Chiarello calls for 12- to 16-oz. small tenderloins. If you can't find that size at your market, cut a larger 24-oz. pork loin in half crosswise, and then cut each piece in half lengthwise, so that you have 4 roughly equal pieces that will cook in the recipe's stated 12 to 15 minutes.

Chiarello tells the cook to toast your own peppercorns and coriander, and then grind them to a fine powder in a spice mill or a coffee grinder, and a "Kitchen Note" at the bottom says "If you don't want to clean out your coffee grinder, a mortar and pestle work just fine too." Unless you like pepper-flavored coffee, I highly recommend that you don't use your everyday coffee grinder for spices. Either use a spice mill dedicated to that purpose, or purchase a separate coffee grinder just for spices. I used the old-fashioned mortar and pestle, which worked just fine, although it does take a bit longer than an electric grinder.

I found the rub to be a tad too salty. I've listed the amount of salt in the ingredients list as "3 to 4 Tbsp." The larger amount is Chiarello's original recipe. He recommends grey sea salt, which is a nicely flavored salt and an excellent ingredient to have in the kitchen, but if you don't have it, regular sea salt is fine.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 Tbsp whole white peppercorns
1 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
4 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
3 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 to 4 Tbsp sea salt, preferably grey
2 pork tenderloins, 12- to 16-oz. each, OR a 24-oz. pork tenderloin cut into 4 pieces, see note above
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast the white peppercorns and coriander seeds until they are fragrant and beginning to pop. Remove from heat and grind to a fine powder in a spice mill or mortar and pestle. Mix the ground pepper and coriander with the other spices, cocoa, and salt.

Trim the pork of fat and silver skin. Rub with a generous amount of spice rub. Heat the olive oil in an overproof sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear the pork on all sides until rich brown in color, about 2 minutes per side. Place the sauté pan in the oven and roast until the pork is 155 degrees in the center, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Let the tenderloins rest out of the oven for about 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch pieces.

 

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©2005 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved. Contact the author.