I went to Colorado last week with my kids for a quick trip to see my family. I made time for a trip to the Savory Spice Shop, and just like the first time I went there, it was very very worth it (pssst...they do flat rate shipping). I came away with a sack full of culinary inspiration. The flavors of freshly ground spices will absolutely knock your socks off and flood you with desire to whip up something delicious in the kitchen. I am particularly partial to their True Ceylon Cinnamon, which is sweet and so cinnamony it almost seems fake. This time, I also purchased a bottle of their Vietnamese cinnamon, which they told me is their absolute top seller. It's also very cinnamony but the sweetness is tempered with a firey kick. Cardamom, achiote paste, California bay leaves, a microplane grater with some whole spices included, a moroccan blend called Ras El Hanout, crystallized ginger and some pink peppercorns rounded out my purchase. I've already used almost all of them. The achiote goes into my Puerco Pibil. I tossed a bay leaf into my pot of "cream of whatever's in the fridge" soup. I made a chicken and apricot recipe with the Ras El Hanout, and I added cardamom and crystalized ginger along with hunks of dark chocolate to my gingersnap recipe with awesome results. I'm all about tweaking old recipes to make them better.
So let's talk about the pink peppercorns. I wouldn't have even tried them if the guy at the store hadn't made me. They're not hot peppery like you'd expect. More like a blast of pine flavor with a little zip at the end. I knew immediately that they'd be most excellent paired with pork and rosemary with a fruity finish, and I was right. You could absolutely substitute coarsely ground fresh pepper in this recipe, but if you can ever get your hands on the pink ones, give them a try for sure! It turns out that they're not actually peppercorns at all, but are related to cashews. Who'da thunk it? Here's my creation:
Seared Pink Peppercorn and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin (generally around 2 pounds)
2-3 T. olive oil
1 T. pink peppercorns (or 1/2 T. freshly ground pepper)
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
High quality cherry or apricot preserves (Bonne Maman is my personal favorite)
In a large, oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat for a few minutes. Sprinkle the tenderloin with salt, peppercorns and rosemary, and sear on all four sides for 2-3 minutes each, rotating with tongs. Pop the skillet into an oven heated to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 155-160 degrees. (I have found that with a lower rimmed skillet, the cooking time will be shorter than this, and with a high rimmed pot that's more like a dutch oven, the cook time can be as high as 50 minutes, so definitely go off the meat temperature). Remove from the oven and roll the meat around just a bit in the drippings to soak up all the flavor. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Fruit preserves are an excellent accompaniment, and if you are so inclined, the pan drippings would make an excellent gravy. I recommend serving this with a side of roasted root vegetables.