I was thinking the other day about being adventurous with food and what that means…for some, like Minnesota’s own Travel Channel star Andrew Zimmern, adventurous might mean noshing on barely-edibels; for others, it might mean going for the title of “Most Juicy Lucys'” eaten at Matt’s.
For me right now, being adventurous means challenging myself to step out of my cooking comfort zone to learn new recipes and techniques and it also means not being afraid to fail. A huge aspect of cooking that I realized that I don’t know a whole lot about is one of the basics of all good cooking – spices. And I don’t mean your usual oregano and parsley!
Papreeekah….Paprahkah – however you say it, the only thing I’ve ever used paprika for is to garnish deviled eggs, so this is the first adventurous spice I’m tackling in this delicious recipe for Paprika Rubbed Pork Tenderloin! The bright red powder I’ve been taking for granted is made by grinding chili peppers or bell peppers and is a much used ingredient in Hungary, where it originated….no clue as to whether or not Hungarians use it to top their eggs…
I’d had a pork loin in the freezer that I wasn’t sure what to do with and some fantastic looking carrots from the farmer’s market. Don’t they look vibrant and delicious?! I love that the carrots cook first with garlic and honey and get a slightly sweet and savory glaze before they finish cooking with the pork – I loved how they turned out!
Although it is mixed with other spices, paprika is definitely the defining ingredient in the sightly spicy rub that is massaged into the pork loin before searing it on the stove. I used a smokey, Spanish paprika that smelled absolutely delicious, but there is quite a variety to choose from – from the typical mild to rather spicy – and whichever appeals to you will work fine!
The pork loin is pretty lean, but searing it on all sides before placing it with the carrots in the oven to finish cooking will create a fantastic crispness on the spice-coated edges (yum!).
I absolutely enjoyed this dish – then, I enjoyed the left overs! And, I can say that I gained a new passion for paprika!
Here’s the Recipe!
- 2 pounds baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, leaving 1/2 inch of green tops attached
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small jalapeño (preferably red), seeded, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 1-to 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloins
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika**
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Arrange carrots on large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tablespoons water and all remaining ingredients in small bowl; pour over carrots and toss to coat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Toss to coat before continuing.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast carrot mixture covered until just tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange pork tenderloins on another rimmed baking sheet. Stir oregano, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl; rub mixture all over tenderloins. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return to rimmed baking sheet.
Remove foil from carrots. Nestle pork among carrots on baking sheet, arranging carrots in single layer around pork. Roast uncovered until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, stirring carrots occasionally if beginning to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer pork to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange carrots on platter. Top with pork slices, drizzling any pan juices over.
* Available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.
** Sometimes labeled Pimentón Dulce or Pimentón de La Vera Dulce; available at some supermarkets or at specialty foods stores