One versatile spice rub, two recipes, part 2: Tandoori-spiced Pork Tenderloin

by Terry B on June 13, 2012

Last week’s spice rub of cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric and cayenne flavors a one-pan braised meal: Tandoori-spiced Pork Tenderloin with Chickpeas and Spinach. Recipe below.

Don’t you hate it when a recipe tells you to reserve the rest of some ingredient “for another use?” Usually, I end up with half a jalapeño pepper or something dutifully wrapped in plastic and stowed in the fridge until it rots. But that’s exactly what I did last week—told you to reserve the rest of the tandoori spice rub from the Tandoori-spiced Grilled Salmon recipe “for another use.”

Unlike most times when recipes tell you to do that, though, I’m going to show you what to do with that reserved spice rub right now. This use points up the rub’s versatility. Last week, it was grilling and salmon; this week, it’s stovetop braising and pork. It could as easily be roasting and chicken or stir frying and shrimp or tofu.

The big flavors of this spice mix—cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper—lend themselves beautifully to many cooking techniques and dishes. And pork tenderloin is a perfect canvas for these flavors. Pork works well with spices, and the tenderloin is easy to cook and beautiful to serve. I liked the way fresh ginger and garlic added to the overall flavor with last week’s grilled salmon, so I incorporated them again this week.

Tandoori-spiced Pork Tenderloin with Chickpeas and Spinach
Serves 2 (with leftover pork, “for another use”)

For the tandoori spice rub (makes about 5 tablespoons):
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the pork tenderloin, chickpeas and spinach:
1 pork tenderloin, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds
olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14-1/2-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 5-ounce bag baby spinach

Prepare the spice rub. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. A quick note—if you have whole cumin seeds and coriander seeds, so much the better. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, cool them and grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. The flavor will be phenomenal.

Marinate the pork. Pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel and tie it with kitchen string in three places along its length (pork tenderloins are typically two pieces of meat twisted together, and one of their favorite pastimes is to untwist during cooking). Combine 2 to 3 tablespoons of the tandoori spice rub in a small bowl with an equal amount of olive oil and the ginger and garlic. Stir to combine. Spread mixture over the pork tenderloin to coat evenly. Place tenderloin in a zippered plastic bag and marinate for about 3 hours in the fridge. Reserve any unused rub mixture, also in the fridge.

Cook the dish. About 1/2 hour before you’re ready to cook, remove the tenderloin from the fridge to come to room temperature (this can count as part of the marinating time). When you’re ready to cook, heat a large, lidded nonstick sauté pan over medium flame. Scrape the excess marinade from the tenderloin into a bowl and reserve. Salt tenderloin on all sides. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and brown the tenderloin on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to plate.

Sauté the onion in the pan, adding a little more oil if needed, for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chickpeas, reserved marinade, chicken broth and wine to pan. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits and stirring to combine. Return tenderloin to pan, reduce heat to simmer and cover pan.

Cook, turning the tenderloin occasionally, until a quick read thermometer registers 145ºF when inserted into center of tenderloin, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer tenderloin to cutting board and tent with foil.

Add spinach to pan, in batches if necessary, and stir to incorporate. Cover pan and cook until spinach has wilted and reduced in volume, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Snip strings from tenderloin and slice it crosswise into 1/3 to 1/2-inch slices. Spoon chickpea spinach mixture into two shallow bowls and top with slices of pork tenderloin—I used three per serving. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

“For another use.” Yep. That’s what it said about the extra pork tenderloin. Sue me. You can either double up on the chickpeas and spinach (if your pan will accommodate them) and turn this into a dish for four, or you can find another use for the leftover pork. It would make great sandwiches. Or add it to a stir fry or pasta dish.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

altadenahiker June 13, 2012 at 3:26 am

Two thoughts: Check my refrigerator for all those rotting bits and pieces I’ve dutifully saved, AND make this dish. Have I ever told you your instructions are bomb proof? I’ve tried so many recipes from this site and they always turn out well.

randi June 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I’m thinking this might work nicely in my tagine which i started using lately and LOVE.
Altadenahiker I agree absolutely! I know anything I make from here will be fabulous. There’s a lot of wannabe’s out there and this ain’t one.

Terry B June 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Awww, thanks, guys! And Randi, let me know how it works in the tagine. I’d love to know what else you’re cooking in it too.

kitchenriffs June 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I’d definitely use the leftover pork in a stir fry “for another use.” Nice thing about a stir fry is it’s a great way to use up bits and pieces of stuff. As for the tandoori rub, heck, that will store well for several weeks, so no problem in finding something to do with this. Like, for example, this recipe! Quite nice — pork is excellent in Indian cooking (pork isn’t widely used in most of India, but it is in the state of Goa). Anyway, as usual nice recipe. And thanks for the follow up with a use for the “reserved rub!”

April June 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

Wow – delicious and satisfying way to muddle together leftovers. It turned into a magical meddley of food. Absolutely fantastic – love it!

Dan June 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

Satisfying, sumptious and succulent flavours from old food that otherwise would have been left homeless int he back of the fridge. It gave my sad and tired turkey a real new lease of life. Tender, juicy and tasty flavours oozed after adding your great tips and ideas. Lush!

Leona Davis July 9, 2012 at 8:41 am

It looks so awesome. Wow! :)

Anthony August 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

Interesting recipe with that tandori spice. I need to try it myself. Thanks for sharing.

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