Seared Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa Spice Rub Recipe

I am back from my trip, with great food stories and photos to come this week, but I want to tide you over with another winter recipe to warm your hearth during these cold days. After making this Three Bean Turkey Chili, a savory dish with the surprising ingredients of cinnamon and cocoa powder, I was intrigued. I wanted to find other ways to put these spices to use in unexpected dishes.

Pork tenderloin is a great lean cut of meat that I find easy to work with and more flavorful than a chicken breast. This spice rub is from Michael Chiarello. He’s one of those approachable chefs, someone you would hang out with. While the spice rub may take some effort to put together initially, it will keep in an airtight container for up to three months. Make it once and enjoy the fruits of your labors many times over.

I have made this a few times since putting together the spice rub. The first time I served it with roasted pumpkin seasoned with nutmeg and a little melted butter. Curried roasted butternut squash and rosemary roasted root vegetables both made great pairs as well.

Seared Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa Spice Rub

1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole coriander
4 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
4 tablespoons sea salt, preferably gray
2 (2-pound) boneless pork tenderloins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast white peppercorns and coriander seeds until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and grind to fine powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Mix the ground pepper and coriander with remaining spices, cocoa and salt.

Trim the pork tenderloins of fat and silver skin. Rub with a generous amount of the cocoa spice rub. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear each tenderloin on all sides until a rich brown color, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove tenderloins from heat and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Let the tenderloins rest out of the oven for at least 10 minutes before carving.

The second time I made the rub, I couldn’t find the whole coriander and had to use pre-ground. It wasn’t quite as flavorful but no one else noticed!

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