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Food Network Favorites: Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Ancho Chile-Mustard Sauce

From Bobby Flay, a very good recipe for pork tenderloin. I've had to add some information to the ingredients and the instructions for clarity, but the end result is a very good dish.

Flay says to use 2 pork tenderloins, "about 12 ounces each," but this cut of meat isn't the most common variety of pork tenderloin you'll find at your grocery store. It's possible to find small tenderloins like this from specialty butchers, for a very high price. More likely to be on the shelf at the market, however, is a product like this, a 1.5 pound tenderloin from Hormel. If you can find the smaller size, by all means use it. But if you're stuck with the bigger one, you should cut it crosswise through the middle to help reduce cooking time, and even in 2 pieces, this larger cut of meat will take longer to cook -- about twice as long as Bobby Flay's instructions indicate.

My other issue with the recipe is the treatment of the ancho chiles. You're supposed to soak them in hot water and then purée them, and apparently Bobby Flay never has any trouble with leftover bits of tough, chewy skin when he does this. I, on the other hand, have puréed many a chile this way, and I always end up with a fairly good amount of purée, mixed with some flaky pieces of skin that don't want to get smooth no matter what you do. These bits are unpleasant to bite into, so you'll need to press the purée through a sieve with a rubber spatula to get the hard bits out. I use a strainer with a medium mesh because it's easier to push the purée through. If you can get perfectly smooth purée from dried chiles, you can skip this step, but I've never been able to, so I had to strain them. I've also added some more detailed information to the purée instructions, since Flay's note merely says to soak chiles in water, with no indication of how many chiles to use. I've given instructions to use a 3-oz. package, which will yield more purée than is necessary for this recipe, because it's much easier to purée a larger amount of chiles. Trying to purée one lone chile will only lead to frustration, in my experience.

Food Network Favorites makes a big deal about the different varieties of chile powder in the spice rub, saying that if you can't find them in a store, you should try to order them online. Truthfully, you're not going to get a huge difference in the flavor profile if you don't happen to be able to get ahold of guajillo powder, or pasilla powder, or whatever. I live in the Western US and it's easy for me to find all of these, but if you can't find them, just substitute whatever is available. Try to use at least 3 different kinds of chile powder, but don't fret if they're not the same exact varieties listed in the recipe.

Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus at least 1 hour to soak dried chiles
Cook Time: 15 to 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Spice Rub
3 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp chile de arbol powder
1 Tbsp pasilla chile powder
1 Tbsp guajillo chile powder
1 tsp allspice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ancho Chile-Mustard Sauce
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup apple juice concentrate
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp puréed canned chipotle in adobo
2 Tbsp ancho chile purée (see below for instructions)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins, about 12 oz. each (or 1 pork loin, about 24 oz., cut in half crosswise)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the Spice Rub: In a bowl combine all ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Combine the chicken stock, apple juice, and peppercorns with the chipotle and ancho purées in a medium saucepan over high heat and reduce to a sauce-like consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in mustard and crème fraîche and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is reducing, cook the pork. Dredge the loins in the spice rub and pat off excess. Heat the olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the pork and sear well on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and continue cooking to medium-well, about 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (about 10 minutes for smaller tenderloins, 20 to 25 minutes for thicker loins). Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal. Spoon the sauce onto the pork slices.

For ancho chile purée: Soak a 3-oz. package of dried chiles in hot water to cover for about 1 hour. Drain, then pull the stem ends off and discard. The seeds can be discarded or blended with the chiles, depending on how spicy you want the purée to be. Blend the chiles in a food processor until smooth, adding a small amount of their soaking water if necessary (no more than 1/4 cup). Press the purée through a medium mesh strainer with a rubber spatula, leaving the leftover large pieces in the strainer. Discard large pieces. This will give you more chile purée than is needed for the recipe. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze the purée in ice cube trays for easy measuring and future use.



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