We took pork tenderloin to a whole new level last night. I had confessed over dinner with our friends that I often get bored with pork tenderloin. Well, when I took the first bite of the meal that we had made together, I took it back. Wow. The pork was tender, moist, and spicy! The sauce provided another layer of spiciness, this one more subtle, and balanced by the sweetness of maple syrup. We owe the complexity of flavor to the fact that we had at least 4 different kinds of chiles in our kitchen doing various things – being ground into powder, being steeped in hot water, and being pureed into a paste. The smell lingered in the house for awhile, and if we closed our eyes it was like we were standing in the middle of a spice market. As we always say as we’re sitting down to dinner, “Go team!” We’re thankful to have friends who enjoy cooking together and savoring the results! Speaking of savoring, the Primitivo that we opened went wonderfully with the earthy spiciness of the various chiles.
For the Spice Rub:
3 TBS. olive oil
1 TBS. achiote paste
3 TBS. chile de arbol powder (we used whole dried chile de arbol and pulsed them in a food processor)
2 TBS. chile powder (whatever is in your spice rack)
salt & pepper
For the Ancho Chile-Mustard Sauce:
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water
6 black peppercorns
zest of 1 lime
2 tsp. puréed canned chipotle in adobo
4 TBS. ancho chile purée (*see below for instructions)
1 TBS. dijon mustard
2 TBS. plain yogurt
juice of 1 lime
For the Tenderloin:
2 pork tenderloins, about 12 oz. each
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Make the Spice Rub: Put the olive oil into a small bowl. Add the achiote paste and mix together. Add the remaining rub ingredients and stir together. Set aside.
- Combine the chicken stock, maple syrup, water, peppercorns and lime zest with the chipotle and ancho purées in a medium saucepan over high heat and reduce to a sauce-like consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in mustard and yogurt and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lime juice. Set aside.
- While sauce is reducing, rub with tenderloins with the olive oil-spice rub mixture.
- Grill until the tenderloins reach 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice tenderloins and spoon the ancho chile-mustard over the top.
*Ancho Chile Puree:
Soak a 3-oz. package of dried chiles in hot water to cover for about 1 hour. Drain, then pull the stem ends off and discard. The seeds can be discarded or blended with the chiles, depending on how spicy you want the purée to be. Blend the chiles in a food processor until smooth, adding a small amount of their soaking water if necessary (no more than 1/4 cup). This makes plenty of chile purée (more than what is needed for the recipe) You can freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months.
What did we eat with our spicy pork tenderloin? I was getting to that! We made a salad of baby tatsoi, strawberries, pasilla peppers, and red onion with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. It was inspired by a salad that our friend enjoyed at Red Restaurant & Bar in downtown Santa Cruz. We made two major changes, however: 1) the store was out of poblano peppers so we had to use pasilla peppers and 2) we forgot to grill the pasilla peppers. Oh well. The salad was still refreshing and summery! We’ll be trying it again soon the *real* way!
For dessert we had strawberry shortcake, using my Quick Yogurt Biscuits as the base (I added 2 TBS. of sugar to the recipe this time). They were a great canvas for sliced strawberries and freshly whipped cream!