A southern gal, comfort food especially strikes my fancy. Macaroni and Cheese-bring it on. Pot roast- yes please. Fried chicken-I just can’t get enough. Sometimes though, the Americana standard for comfort fare gets a little heavy and a little lackluster. Occasionally, I need a bigger world of bold flavors to truly comfort my tired and hungry soul. Vietnamese Pho will often do the trick. A large and in charge, proper gyro has been known to put a smile on my face. Thai Curry has also successfully relieved some whining. This Moroccan Pork tenderloin recipe is yet another consoling concoction I frequently crave on a bland kind of day. With an exciting blend of warm and delightfully dominant spices, it hits your tongue with some positive energy, reminding you that dinner will lessen the pain of a very bad day.
My brother, a creative and curious cook, always has something up his apron sleeve. We are siblings with recipes stored in our heads and recipes under mental construction and revision every time our feet touch the kitchen floor. This is a recently invented dish, one that he effortlessly taught me how to prepare. So simple, yet so satisfyingly soothing, it is sure to land a spot in your recipe repertoire.
1 Pork (or turkey) tenderloin
1 c. couscous or your preferred grain (Basmati rice would be good too!)
1/3 cup golden raisins
For the spice rub, combine:
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons all spice
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon cloves
For the stuffing:
All of the seasonings listed above
4 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
1 cup dried apricots (chopped)
1 bulb of shallots, chopped
1) Sauté shallots in EVOO until soft. Add minced garlic, apricots and one-tablespoon spice blend. Set aside.
2) Split tenderloin ¾ the way through (make length-wise pocket) and liberally coat with spice rub on inside and out.
3) Stuff tenderloin with apricot mixture and use butchers twine to tie it up.
4) Bake in oven according to directions. FYI: You can eat pork slightly “under-done.” I always use a meat thermometer and pull out pork tenderloins 15 degrees under and let rest.
5) Boil the Israeli couscous until al dente (it is pasta) and drain.
5) After resting for 10 minutes, take tenderloin out of pan and set aside on a cutting board. Using cornstarch or a slurry (flour and water), thicken the juices left behind in the pan on medium high heat to make a sauce. If it gets too thick, add a touch of white wine or vegetable broth. Pour your sauce into a gravy boat or small dish.
7) Turn the burner down to a very low setting and add your drained couscous to the pork pan allowing it to soak up the remaining juices. Sprinkle in the golden raisins and 2 teaspoons spice blend. Mix well.
8) Remove your butcher’s twine from the tenderloin and slice. Plate your couscous with tenderloin slices on top and a generous drizzle of sauce. Enjoy!!!