Got Company Coming for Dinner? Make Chipotle-Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.

DSC_0033Pork tenderloin coated with chipotle-cocoa rub.

Do you have “company dishes”? You know, the dishes you make when you want to impress people with your culinary prowess? Mine is pork tenderloin. And it should be yours too. Here’s why:

*Everyone loves pork tenderloin.

*It’s one of the simplest, no-fuss meats to cook and is virtually impossible to mess up.

*It’s less expensive than other “fancy” meats.

*It’s endlessly versatile — make it with BBQ sauce, dry rubs, marinades, whatever. You can grill or roast it. You can even stuff it.

*Pork tenderloin leftovers make killer sandwiches for the next day’s lunch.

OK, I said it was “virtually” impossible to mess up. That’s true, if you don’t overcook it. According to the new USDA guidelines, pork chops, roasts, and tenderloins can safely be cooked to medium-rare at 145 degrees, not. 160, followed by a 3-minute rest period. Keep in mind that the 15 degree difference will yield a finished product that is likely moister and pinker than you may be used to which is perfectly safe. After you remove the pork tenderloin from the oven, cover it with tinfoil and let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes to keep all those savory juices locked inside.

DSC_0039Searing the tenderloin on a hot grill pan will char the exterior and keep the interior moist.

So next time you’ve got company coming for dinner, play it smart and make pork tenderloin. Then get ready to mingle with your guests instead of standing over a hot stove. And if you’ve got leftovers, which I really hope you do, use them to make this spicy Southwest sandwich: Spread two slices of jalapeno cheddar bread with a big dollop of mayo and a little dollop of spicy mustard; add the leftover pork tenderloin, and top with lots of shredded cheddar cheese or smoked gouda. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly. Eat it while it’s hot.

Got any great pork tenderloin recipes? Please share them below in the comments section.

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Chipotle – Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Makes 6 to 8 servings

My favorite way to make pork tenderloin is to start with a dry rub that infuses the pork with flavor, then sear it in a hot pan to create a savory crust, then finish roasting it in the oven until done. Make-ahead suggestion: After applying dry rub, refrigerate tenderloin up to 24 hours. Let rest on countertop for 10 minutes before cooking.

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder for lip-tingling heat OR 2 tablespoons for lip-numbing heat. It’s up to you.

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

2 – 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line the inside of a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. If you don’t have a roasting pan, a deep ovenproof dish will do. The dish does not have to be lined.

Place all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Then rub all over with the chipotle mixture, massaging it into the meat until well coated.

In a grill pan or large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining tablespoon of canola oil. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and cook, turning it over to ensure even browning on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees, about 15 minutes. Pork tenderloin cooks quickly, especially depending on your oven’s heat. Cover the pork tenderloin with a tinfoil and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing for extra juicy pieces.

Serving suggestions: Any of the following sides would pair deliciously with this chipotle-cocoa rubbed pork tenderloin: Mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, sweet corn, sauteed zucchini and onions, grilled vegetables, roasted asparagus, coleslaw, jicama and cucumber salad, watermelon and feta salad.

One thought on “Got Company Coming for Dinner? Make Chipotle-Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.

  1. Not sure I left feedback already. I’m making this for the 3rd time and this time for Christmas Dinner for 16. It is wonderful! Thank you for posting. Only thing I did different is that I brined my pork overnight. It helps in case I screw up my cooking times the meat might be overcooked but it never dries out.

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