Sunday, May 31, 2009

Recipe: Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

Every once in a while you stumble upon a recipe so delicious and so impressive that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will become a favorite to be made over and over again. I thought I'd made some pretty decent pork dishes in the past, but Mr. AT proclaimed upon tasting my island pork tenderloin salad, "this is by far the best pork dish you've made!" Now that could be a veiled jab at my previous pork dishes, but I suspect he was just being honest - it really was the best in porcine deliciousness.

This island influenced pork dish uses a spice mix to great effect. It's light and seemingly healthy but at the same time so layered and complex tasting. You can't quite put your finger on what all those spices are when all combined, but you are confident that it's damned tasty. Even better it results in super succulent pork, and the bright citrus flavors keep it light and tangy. And rare for me - it actually looked really lovely on the plate with a bright combination of oranges and greens and avocado. Delish!

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
Gourmet | May 2003
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 main-course servings

For pork
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil

For glaze
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

For vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

For salad
3 navel oranges
5 ounces baby spinach, trimmed (6 cups leaves)
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (from 1 medium head)
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 firm-ripe California avocados

Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

Prepare pork:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.

Make glaze and roast pork:
Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140°F, about 20 minutes. Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 155°F while standing.)

Make vinaigrette while pork roasts:
Whisk together juices, mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Prepare salad ingredients while pork stands:
Cut peel, including white pith, from oranges with a sharp knife, then cut oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, and raisins in a large bowl with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Assemble salad:
Cut pork at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Line a large platter with dressed salad and arrange sliced pork, oranges, and avocados in rows on top. Drizzle some vinaigrette over avocados and oranges. Pour any juices from skillet over pork.



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