Sweet Always Beats Spice

If you like spice but want to tame it, it’s simple; add something sweet and what’s better in the fall than sweet potatoes?

I prepared a pork tenderloin with a spicy crust and paired it with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli with citrus to brighten it up a bit; it was getting a little “heavy”.

I used ~1.5 lb tenderloin and didn’t even trim it, they do a pretty good job at trimming them if you purchase a good one so splurge a little and save yourself some time and wasted meat because I always gauge it when trying to clean….

I marinated it in pineapple juice (just the large can) with some of the chipotle chile powder and brown sugar for a couple of hours.

Always rinse it and pat dry to eliminate any residual gross smelling liquids (I can’t think too much about meat or else I won’t be able to eat it so I try to make it as clean as possible), rub with some olive oil and set aside.

Make the Crust

In a small bowl mix together the following:

  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp chipotle chile powder*
  • 2.5 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • .5 cup finely copped toasted pecans (toast extra for later use, great to have on hand)
  • 8 tbsp brown sugar (use light, darker will result in more of a burned look)

* You can add more or less depending on your desired level of spice but remember the sweet potatoes will offset the spice a good bit.

[Note: you may have more than you need so don’t cross contaminate and save for the next time. I have about 20 of these types of jars for storing everything from rice and nuts to spices. I got mine from Ikea but they have them at Target and Craft Stores]

Prep the Tenderloin

Pour some of the crust onto a cutting board or plate and place the tenderloin on top to coat the bottom and coat the rest focusing on the sides and ends; firmly pressing it into the flesh. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 12(ish) hours (so overnight to okay). Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before putting in the oven.

Cook

Don’t be like most of our mothers and cook the poor thing to obliteration. I swear it took me years to consider eating pork as an adult for dread of consuming actual shoe leather…

A good rule of thumb is to cook it for ~20 minutes per pound considering the ends are usually smaller and will be more “done” than the rest; that’s okay for me because I snack on those the next day. Bake at 350 degrees or throw on the grill for the same amount of time turning 4 times (so break up the cooking time to be equal per side).

The Side Dishes!!!

Mashed sweet potatoes are the perfect accompaniment for pork and even better for spicier pork and they are super simple.

Life changer: Potato Ricer…. If you don’t have one, go to Amazon right now and buy one, your potato game will be upper level immediately. Don’t buy a fancy one with interchangeable disks, I have one with square holes and it works perfect; I think I bought it at Bed Bath and Beyond. Just make sure it is large enough that you don’t have to rice and rice and rice. the receptacle should be about the size of a potato.

Again, not a specific person when cooking so grab one potato per person at the market and bake for ~1 hour; I don’t advocate boiling because you can get watery potatoes if you don’t dry enough so it’s not worth the risk for me. I just poke them with a knife several times on all sides, wrap individually in foil and throw in the oven on a baking sheet at 350.

Once they are done (you know if you can insert a knife all the way through) and cool enough to handle, unwrap, slice down the middle and scoop chunks into the ricer (see note) and rice into a larger pot. I like to mash right away even if I am not serving them for a while just because you get the best consistency when they are warm and freshly riced.

Note: It is not the end of the world if you don’t have a ricer, it just really makes a difference. If you don’t, just scoop the flesh into a pot and use the hand mixer.

I throw in a little butter, some salt and ~1 tbsp of brown sugar and mix; for a super silky mash, I run a hand mixer through them also. I blend all of this together before I add the milk (or cream) to make sure I don’t make them too watery. I splash in milk (or cream, your choice and you can even use half and half since I know you have some for your coffee) and mix with the hand mixer until they are the desired consistency over low heat. If you are going to serve them later,I would stop after mixing in the butter and spice then continue on with the milk when you are ready to serve.

Top with some of the toasted pecans and sprinkle with cinnamon if you’re so inclined, with one, both or neither is fine but the pecans add a nice texture.

Make the Broccoli

I grab about a head of broccoli for two people, wash it and cut from the stems; bite size pieces in varying sizes is fine, don’t waste too much time on it. I place it in a large bowl, toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic them place on a lined baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees for ~20 minutes. When it’s done squeeze half of a lemon (see note) over the broccoli and shave some zest evenly over, top with some Parmesan and serve immediately.

Note: I wash my hands and squeeze the lemon into my hand letting the juice run through my fingers trapping the seeds before they escape. No fancy tools needed.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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