Season Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

I’m telling you – I have become quite fond of the pork tenderloin! With the rosemary and balsamic grilled tenderloin recipe under my belt, I wanted to try another version with more of a simple (yet flavorful!) rub-quality.  And this time, I did it oven-roasted style.   I had almost all of the necessary ingredients in the spice rack, already – so it did not take a lot of shopping prep (simply just remembering to buy the meat!).  And, of course, to give credit where credit is due – I pulled this recipe from Ellie Krieger via Food Network.

Here’s the rub-down:

Ingredients:
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt
1 lb pork tenderloin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 F
  • To create the rub, combine the dry ingredients (garlic powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt) in a small bowl, mixing well with a fork.

  • Sprinkle over the outside of the pork tenderloin, turning to coat.
  • With your hands, rub well over the entire tenderloin, occasionally patting to ensure adhesiveness.

(I usually coat the tenderloin in the spice rub in the morning and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator during the day.  But you can go ahead and begin cooking at this point, if you prefer).

  • When ready to cook (again, with the oven pre-heated to 450 F), heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Sear the sides of the tenderloin in the heated oil, rotating occasionally with tongs to cover all of its surfaces, for about 10 minutes. 
  • A few minutes into the 10-minute sear time, add minced garlic to the pan with the searing tenderloin.  (The garlic will burn if you leave it cooking in the pan for the full amount of time).
  • When finished, transfer the tenderloin onto a roasting pan and put in the oven for another 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so after removing the tenderloin from the oven; then slice and serve!

Slow Cooked Saucy Pulled Pork

Ah yes, it’s another slow cooker recipe! I love the concept; I really do.  I pulled this one from TV, yet again, while watching Kelsey’s Essentials – but, of course, omitted the brown sugar to make it 4HB-friendly.  It still tasted very rich and yummy to me! Now, if only I could have piled it up high on a bun to make myself a pulled pork sandwich… Oh well – baby steps (I’ll save that one for a cheat day)! I will say, however, that it tasted very delicious on its own.  I’ve also found that it’s pretty versatile.  For one, it is pretty terrific as a meat sauce on squash noodles or spaghetti squash noodles.  My goodness, how things are coming together!

One big reason that I like this particular recipe is because the spice combination gives you good pulled pork flavor, without making it taste too much like a Mexican-style pulled pork.  Which, of course, I also love (ahem, slow cooked carnitas, anyone?).  But it’s always nice to have some variation up your sleeve for meals! Plus, this version is super saucy – rich and flavorful.

That intro kind of reminds me of this recipe: sort of a long process, but with an eventual outcome of pure delicious satisfaction!

Hey, let’s crock it to the pot!

Ingredients:
1 pork shoulder or butt (3-4 lbs)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

Directions:

  • Combine the tomato sauce, chili powder, coriander and cumin in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Stir to combine.

  • Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.

  • Using tongs, flip the pork around in the pot a bit to evenly coat with the tomato sauce and spice mixture.

  • Mince and dice the garlic and onions.  Add to the slow cooker and toss the meat, again, with tongs to evenly distribute its contents.

  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours until the pork is tender and beginning to fall apart.

  • Remove the pork and place in a large bowl or plate.  Let it sit and cool for a few minutes.(As you can clearly see below – my pork turned out so tender that I had to take it out in several large clumps! Was falling apart at the touch.  That’s some quality tenderization, there!)
  • With 2 forks, pull apart and shred the meat.  Remove and discard any excess fat.

  • Skim off any excess fat from the sauce that is left remaining in the pot.  Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. (The purpose of the lime juice is to tame, slightly, the boldness and richness  in flavor that is ultimately created from the slow cooking of fat in the sauces.  Delicious flavor, already, but the citrus flavoring creates a product that really works well for the overall pulled pork flavor).

  • Add the shredded pork back into the slow cooker and toss with the remaining tomato sauce and meat juices.

  • Scoop generously onto plates!

Leftovers? Good news! The pulled pork can be stored in its sauce and refrigerated for a few days.  In fact, the next evening, it went quite well on zucchini and squash noodles! 

Sweet porky victory!

Balsamic & Rosemary Pork Tenderloin w/ Roasted Veggies

Hooray for experiments in meat cookings! I had not had much (okay…none) experience with cooking pork tenderloin, but I can’t say the idea hadn’t frequently piqued my interest.  As ridiculous as it may sound, I love the idea of a plate full of several small medallions of sliced meat, “crusted” on the outside with  flavor and the natural char from the grill.  So flavorful, yet so simple! None of this is truly important, I know – it all becomes “one” in the stomach, after all.  But why not let the simplest things become the enjoyment within the culinary experience? I’m all for these little mini, meaty delights – just give me lots of those cute little rounds o’ protein!

At my last Trader Joe’s stock-up session, I decided to pull a log of pork tenderloin from the meat fridge.  Commitment is the in the purchase after all; so soon after, I did a quick internet search to nail down the important concepts – such as – how high to heat the grill, how long to cook it, and what people are typically using to marinate (all building up to the development of ideas to chalk it up to a 4HB-worthy quality).  So I decided to keep it simple this go-around….and trust me; sometimes less IS more! (I feel like I say that a lot.  That’s good).

Now to the part where we make good things happen.

Ingredients:
1 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
A few springs, fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tsp garlic, minced

Directions:

  • Season tenderloin with a light salting, and less-light peppering.  If you’re feeling extra-oderificly frisky, add a touch of garlic salt in lieu of regular salt.
  • Pour the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.  Toss in the rosemary.  Put in the fridge and let marinate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight!).
  • Meanwhile, this would be a good time to start preparing the veggies.  Since this particular pork tenderloin will be grill-roasted, I thought I’d take advantage of the cooking tenderloin to allow some veggies to roast right alongside with it, soaking up its smoky & juicy goodness.  I selected “good” grilling/roasting veggies, such as: red onion, bell peppers, asparagus, and some squash.
  • On a grill preheated at medium-high, place the pork tenderloin either directly on the oiled grate, on a roasting pan (as imaged), or even on/in aluminum foil.  The latter of the two would make the most sense if you are planning to roast your veggies alongside the tenderloin.  But it works just as well to grill these on separate space on the grill.  Don’t limit yourself!
  • Cook the tenderloin for about 12 minutes, rolling it to alternating sides every few minutes or so to ensure even cooking.  If you reserved the freezer bag of marinade, you can use it to baste the tenderloin, occasionally, while it’s grilling.
  • About midway into the cooking process, add your chopped veggies alongside the tenderloin.  My first try at this, I added the veggies at the same time as the tenderloin, but ended up removing them much earlier (and covering with foil to keep warm!), as they clearly cook much faster than the meat.  Noted for future!
  • Lay a sprig or two of fresh rosemary over top the tenderloin/veggies for added flavor, if preferred.

  • After about 12 minutes, remove the tenderloin from the grill and let sit for a few minutes.

  • Slice up into medallions (mmm juicy!).

  • Distribute sliced pork rounds and piled-up roasted veggies to your plates!

Slow Cooked Carnitas

Ole!

As most of us have come to learn, Mexican food tends to be just about the simplest cuisine to suit the 4HB lifestyle, with only slight modifications.  Has the riceless Chipotle Burrito Bowl become your fall-back meal plan, fast-food staple, yet? I’m originally from South Carolina, and was never a huge fan of Mexican food until I moved out to San Diego almost 7 years ago. It wasn’t long until I actually craved Mexican food.  I accredit this to one of two things:  subsequent deviation from a once-extremely picky palate (a.k.a – growing the heck up); or new exposure to Mexican food in a location actually close to the border (with no mass body of water in between!).   It’s all about authenticity sometimes; and good (almost-local) ingredients!

Once again, I’ve shot off on quite the tangent.  But when I think carnitas, I think of a good, home-cooked, Mexican dish.  This is one of my husband’s and my favorite slow-cooker meals.  Work all day; fiesta in the eve! Tender and juicy, with a touch of outer crispness; this hunk of meat is flavorful and filling!

Let’s get right down to this porky delight:

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless pork butt (or pork shoulder)
1/2 medium yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
2 tsp Butt Rub Seasoning (optional)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

  • Cut up the pork butt into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes.  If you’re purchasing your pork from a butcher, they will usually cut it for you, if you ask.  
  • Trim off some of the excess fat, if you desire (but not all of it !)  If you’re like me, and a little frightened by the big splotches white, just trim off some of the fat.   Don’t get too obsessive over it, however, as you actually do want some of that fat to cook with the meat in order to allow for extra tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.  And trust me – the fat will melt right off of the meat, anyway, when it is finished.
  • Toss the cubed meat into the slow-cooker.
  • Season the meat with salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin (and any other seasonings, should you choose to add-on), and toss to coat.  If using liquid smoke, pour the small amount into the pot.
  • Sprinkle the minced garlic & red pepper flakes over top the meat.  Cut the yellow onion half into 2 or 3 chunks, and rest the pieces, intact, on top of the meat.

If you are making this ahead of time, put the lid over the crock pot and let sit  in the fridge, absorbing that extra flavor. Otherwise, go ahead and plug it in and get it started! Trust me, your flavor will be delicious, as is.

  • Cook on low setting for 6-7 hours.

  • When finished, and ready to serve; remove from the pot with a meshed or slotted spoon, placing it into a pile on a cutting board or plate.
  • Discard the onion pieces.
  • Using a fork, press onto the pork to shred into pieces.  This will not be a labor intensive process, in the least, as it will literally just fall apart under the fork.
  • Dish out onto plates, and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.  Serve as-is, or top with a seasoned & sautéed assortment of bell peppers, onion, and carrots; as imaged below. This mix of veggies, I’ve found, complements the meat really well! And, of course, it offers more resemblance to the innards of a yummy burrito.