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Orange Mojo Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is easy enough for a midweek dinner (if you marinate the pork the night before) and showy enough for company. A brightly flavored Latin spice rub and a marinade of orange juice, fresh herbs, a dozen garlic cloves and some jalapeños deliver enough flavor to satisfy the fussiest palates.  

Ingredients:

For the Latin spice rub: 

  • 1/4 cup ground cumin 
  • 2 Tbs. sugar 
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt  
  • 3 Tbs. freshly ground pepper 
  •   

For the orange mojo: 

  • 2 Tbs. cumin seeds 
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 jalapeño chilies, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tsp. salt  
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper  
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano 
  • 3 Tbs. sherry  
  •   
  • 2 pork tenderloins, each 1 1/2 to 2 lb., silver skin removed 

Directions:

To make the Latin spice rub, in a small container with a tight-fitting lid, stir together the cumin, sugar, coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and shake vigorously to mix. Use immediately, or store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month. You will need 2 Tbs. of the spice rub for this recipe.

To make the mojo, in a fry pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, shaking the pan often, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and heat until warm. Add the jalapeños, garlic, salt and pepper and heat for 3 to 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat.

In a blender, combine the orange juice, cilantro, oregano and sherry. Pour in the warm oil mixture and blend until smooth. You should have about 2 3/4 cups. Divide the mixture in half and let cool. The mojo can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Rub the pork tenderloins evenly with the Latin spice rub. Place the pork in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in half of the mojo. Seal the bag, squish the marinade around the tenderloins and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight is better.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to begin grilling, remove the pork from the refrigerator. Discard the marinade and lightly pat the pork dry with paper towels.

Prepare a medium fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Place the pork on the grill directly over the heat and cook until nicely grill-marked, 3 to 4 minutes. Roll the tenderloins about one-quarter turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Continue to roll and cook in this manner for a total of about 15 minutes for medium. The pork is ready when it feels fairly firm to the touch, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145ºF.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut the pork on the diagonal against the grain and arrange the slices on a platter. Serve immediately with the remaining mojo. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Grill Master, by Fred Thompson (Weldon Owen, 2011).