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I was in line at the corner market yesterday when some items “conveniently” located at the checkout stand caught my eye.  I’d been toying with a mango salsa idea for pork tenderloin and thought a few changes might be nice.  On a whim, I grabbed a container each of fresh pineapple and pomegranate arils, and luckily, the tinkering seriously paid off.

I love this way of preparing pork tenderloin.  You rub the meat with spices, sear it till it has a nice crust, and finish it off in the oven.  Then you hit it with a salsa of tropical fruit, lime juice, and onion so bright, it practically crackles with flavor.  I must have eaten half my weight in fruit salsa last night, so it’s a good thing it’s ridiculously healthy. Even if you’re skeptical of the fruit + meat combination, give this a shot. You’ll be surprised how well it works.

If you have time, brining the meat ensures optimum juiciness and flavor. If not, no worries; this will still turn out great. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Pork brine

-2 Tbsp. coarse salt
-2 Tbsp. sugar
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. bay powder or 2 bay leaves
-pinch of red pepper flake
-1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Cover the meat with water and stir in all the seasonings until dissolved.  Allow to brine (refrigerated) for up to 8 hrs.  Remove from the brining solution and bring to room temp. 30 min. before cooking.

Tropical salsa

-1 sm. yellow onion, finely diced
-1 1/2 c. fresh pineapple, diced (canned OK in a pinch)
-3/4 c. pomegranate arils (“seeds”)
-2 Tbsp. cilantro (fresh coriander), chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
-dash of ground red chilis or cayenne pepper
-juice of 1 1/2 limes
-salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Combine the salsa ingredients and chill for 20 minutes while you prepare the meat.

Tenderloin

-1 pork tenderloin (mine was a little over 1 lb.)
-2 tsp. sweet paprika
-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 tsp. cumin
-1/4 tsp. dried oregano
-vegetable oil, for searing

It can’t all be glamorous.

Trim as much visible fat and silverskin (white/shiny muscle membrane) from the meat as you can.  Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl, then rub all over the tenderloin using your hands.  Heat a few tablespoons oil in a large skillet or roasting pan until almost smoking.  Add the meat to the pan and do not move until the bottom is very brown.  Repeat on all sides.

Remove the meat to an oven-safe glass pan (if not using a roaster) and cover with foil.  Roast @ 425F for 14-20 min., or until done to your liking.  It’s OK if the center is faintly pink.  If the meat feels firm but slightly springy to the touch, it’s done.

Place the meat on a clean cutting board and tent with foil for 5 min. while you assemble the side dishes on plates.  (Black beans and rice are nice accompaniments.)

Once the meat has rested, slice thinly on the diagonal and serve topped with the salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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