Yeah, I’m back. The one who started this blog and was really kicking it into gear, but then went through a divorce, my father’s passing, my mom’s health issues and then a global pandemic. Other things just keep taking my focus and time elsewhere.
And speaking of time, my dinner tonight hardly took any effort and while I was prepping I decided to get back into the blogging saddle again and thought to share this here. Due to the weather, my initial plan to sear the tenderloin on the grill caused me to change direction. But after pan-browning the meat I also decided to switch direction with the side dish and I’m so glad I did (you’ll see below). I’ve even included a cocktail!
From start to finish this took about 15 minutes of prep, then 5 hours in the crockpot while I worked upstairs in my office. And there really isn’t a lot of precise measurements to this meal. I was literally just winging it and the end result was pretty damned good if I do say so myself.
- Pork tenderloin (mine was 2.5 pounds and came in 2 long strips)
- 3/4 cup of Weber Spicy Dark Cocoa Rub* (more or less to taste)
- 1 can (20 oz) of pineapple chunks, in natural juices
- 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil—didn’t want the taste of extra virgin olive oil to muddle the cocoa and peppers of my rub)
*Weber’s rub is incredible. If you can’t find it (might be discontinued), essentially this is what you can mix for yourself to taste: cocoa powder, salt, brown sugar, dried chili pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper. However, a quick search shows that Ree Drummand, from The Pioneer Woman cooking show, has her own version of a spicy cocoa rub on the Food Network website.
Put crockpot on low. Place half of the pineapple chunks and pour about half of the can of juice into the crockpot. Put lid on to start heating.
Un-package pork tenderloin, rinse with water and pat dry a little bit using a paper towel.
Place tenderloins on a cutting board or cookie sheet, and sprinkle the cocoa/spiced rub onto all sides of the meat.
Pat with your hand to make sure it adheres to the meat. Let meat rest about 10 minutes.
In a large skillet (or grill pan), heat the vegetable oil on med-high, then place the meat onto the skillet. Monitor the heat; not too hot to burn, but you want to really sear that rub into the meat.
Sear the outside edges for about a minute each side, using tongs to turn the meat.
Remove pan from the heat and place meat in crockpot (set skillet aside, but do not rinse/wash the pan).
Add the remaining chunks of pineapple on top and sprinkle additional spiced cocoa rub on top for more flavor.
Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours, or until the meat just flakes off with a fork (internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees F).
Once done, turn off crockpot and let meat rest for a bit.
After placing meat in the crockpot, add about 2T of olive oil to the pan with the drippings and any residual spice rub.
Put on med-high heat and then empty a single bag of spinach into the skillet.
Sautée until bright green, but not completely reduced.
Remove from heat and place spinach in a container to cool a bit, then refrigerate.
When the meat is done cooking, remove spinach from refrigerator and either microwave for about 45 seconds to re-heat or place into a skillet with a little bit of oil to re-heat.
That’s it. Easy meal done on the fly, without a lot of measuring or prep. And you can sub the spinach with asparagus or green beans, because the warmth of the cocoa powder and bit of spice would be amazing with those green veggies as well. The warm sweetness of the pineapple chunks are delicious with the tenderloin, too.
No need to drown your meat in pineapple juice (which creates its own juices as it slow cooks). So….I set aside the remaining juice from the can (which ended up being about 2/3 of a cup) and chilled it.
Pour the remaining pineapple juice over a few ice cubes in a martini shaker.
Add a jigger/1.5 oz of tequila (I used Patron, Reposado—slightly aged in oak, it tempers some of the sweetness of the pineapple juice).
Add 1 oz Triple Sec, cover and shake mixture. Pour into a rocks glass.
Not an essential step here, but to add a little fizz without additional sugar, I poured about 1/2 c of lime-flavored sparkling water over top and then garnished with a fresh lime slice.