Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Blasphemous Roast--Mexican Spice Pork Roast

Pork seems to be the dominant meat this week. I'm cooking parcel food. My turn to send food parcels to needy folk. Actually one hungry soul. She is too busy to make dinner so I oblige with a cooler bag of delights.  I make pullao, lamb curry, a paneer subji, and package some leftovers. And her favorite ..roast pork tenderloin and salsa verde. She does love a hearty roast with potatoes and salsa. But this time I make roasted asparagus in place of potatoes so she will have grin and eat it!

It's a hot humid day. The garlic paste jar sweats profusely. So does the fridge. And me too. Salt clumps. And veggies acquire a beady sheen. On a day like this I should be sitting in frigid temperatures with an equally frigid beer in hand. With these frosty visions of the immediate future I start prepping. I borrow this recipe from Rick Bayliss. He is my go-to chef when I want to cook Southwestern cuisine. Pork needs an overnite marinade. Ancho chili powder, garlic, oregano and some brown sugar is massaged into the pork before it rests.  And having done the necessary yesterday it's ready to go. I heat a cast iron pan till it is smoking hot. A film of oil coats the bottom. I love to hear the sizzle of meat in a hot pan. You can almost hear the pork beginning to brown. Having watch a gazillion shows on Food Network I know not to touch the meat. To let it brown undisturbed. I stand with tongs in hand waiting for that crust to form. Patience is not my virtue, so I peek. The pork caramelizes and glistens. Time to turn it over and I see a perfectly formed golden brown slightly charred bottom. A few more minutes and it is ready for the oven. I almost always barbecued the tenderloin on the grill. And then I discovered the brown-n-roast way. It's easier on the legs in summer.... No bug bites. Winter chilly feet!!

And the meat smells savory and aromatic. We like our pork done medium well... A little pink in the middle. Though it is hard to do that in the oven. The hot blast gives it a well done appearance. Some pan sautéed asparagus and salsa verde and dinner is done.

Ancho Chili Pork Roast
Serves 4

1 Pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons Ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 tablespoon light Brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Canola oil

Make a paste of ancho chile powder, garlic paste, oregano, chile powder, sugar, salt and pepper.

Rub the paste all over pork tenderloin. Let the pork marinate for at least an hour or up to a day, in the fridge. If you keep it overnight in the fridge, you will see some liquid in the container. Just drain it off and discard it.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Place a cast iron skillet on a high flame and let the skillet get really hot.

Add the canola oil to hot skillet and place the tenderloin in the oil. 

Let the tenderloin sit undisturbed for 5 to 7 minutes until it caramelizes and turns a deep brown color.

Turn it over and let the other side brown for a few minutes.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.

ALTERNATELY.. You can grill the tenderloin for 20 minutes on an outdoor grill.

Remove the skillet from the oven or grill and place the tenderloin on a wooden board to rest for a few minutes.

Slice and serve!


I like to to serve the pork with southwestern sides...corn, sweet potatoes, rice and salsa verde.

Tenderloins are sometimes thick and other times skinny. The above marinade works for all. Remove the skinny ones a few minutes earlier from the oven.

If you cannot find Mexican oregano, regular oregano is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Dinner is done and I keep leftovers in foil alongside the rest of the goodies. Morning comes in a rush. I scramble to put it all together. The cooler bag is lovingly packed, food snuggled together, bound by sheets of ice. It is picked up by an enthusiastic friend. I heave a sigh of relief. The morning passes by. Lunchtime takes me to the fridge and as I open doors I spot the leftover pork!!!@#*#!!! My memory is going to the dogs!