Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pernil pork tenderloin (Puerto Rican style)

Can I tell you all that I can't stop looking at this photo of my best friend's baby:

It totally cracks me up.

Every. Single. Time. 

Feeling down? Look at this picture! Feeling tired? Look at this picture! Feeling uninspired?? Look at this freaking picture.

Yes, it's a bit creepy (and for flashes it looks like her laughter is of the I've-been-possessed-by-the-devil type). But it's also utterly pure and joyful. She's been captured in a single moment of time, laughing with one of those whole-body belly laughs that only a child who is unaware of the hardships of adulthood can have. And it simply make me happy looking at it.

Other than goofy photos of her daughter, my best friend also likes to share recipes with me, like this Puerto Rican style pork tenderloin recipe. She made it a while back, then practically twisted my arm across the phone to make sure I made it as well. Sheesh, so bossy!!! I can't be mad though- it was fantabulous! Garlic, cumin, oregano, and vinegar make the flavors in this dish simply pop.

I recommend serving this with an extra wedge or 2 of lime for that extra citrus kick
My favorite way to make pork tenderloin in the wintertime is using 5-spice powder for an Asian-inspired dish. (I've also made a delicious herb-brined tenderloin that is super simple and let's the true pork flavor shine through.) But with the warmer months approaching, this recipe might be my new go to for pork tenderloin. It's bright, fresh, tart, and bursting with flavor. Yet at the same time its surprisingly light.

Exactly what I need on those hot summer days.

Yours in finding joy in food and photographs,

Pernil-style Puerto Rican pork tenderloin, from a food magazine I cannot remember

3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 small shallots, coarsely copped
3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP distilled white vinegar
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
salt and pepper

1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (~ 1.25 lb)
lime wedges, for serving

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F.
  2. In food processor or blender combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Pulse for several seconds to make a paste.
  3. Cut the tenderloin in half crosswise (to create 2 pieces of tenderloin), then butterfly both halves by cutting a lengthwise slit to within 1/2" of the other side of the tenderloin.
  4. Spread 1 TBSP of the paste inside each slit. Tie with a kitchen string or secure with toothpicks, and season with salt and pepper. (It's a bit messy, but don't worry if filling starts oozing out. It'll all work out in the end! See photo below.)
  5. Heat a heavy-duty, ovenproof, 10" skillet over high heat until hot, and add olive oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tenderloins and sear on all sides until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes total.
  6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 6 minutes. Turn the tenderloins over and spread the remaining paste on top. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each registers 140 - 145 degrees, about 6 to 8 minutes more.
  7. Transfer to cutting board, remove the string/toothpicks, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice 1/2" thick and serve with lime wedges.
It's messy work making this dish.
But someones got to do it!


Hector Caro-Gonzalez said...

I have never tried to make pork tenderloin. I have some friends coming over next weekend, and this sounds a good thing to try. Thanks Jackie.

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