Great things can come from letting children play in the kitchen.
This recipe for brown sugar and spice rubbed pork tenderloin is a great example. It came about after I let my 5-year-old son play with whatever he could reach from the spice cabinet one afternoon.
He got a bowl and a whisk and started mixing. The result was an amazing dry rub that on scent alone got the attention of everyone in the test kitchen. We all agreed the mix was perfect for a pork rub.
So test kitchen cook Ryan King set to work putting my son’s mixture to good use. This intensely savory pork is the result. Thinly sliced and served with the onions it is roasted over, this dish is perfect for a holiday buffet.
If you’d rather skip the brining, feel free (though it does result in wonderfully moist meat). Just jump ahead to the rubbing step and use half of the spice mixture.
If you do skip the brining, consider serving the pork drizzled with a simple vinaigrette to get that extra moisture.
Brown Sugar and Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
For the seasoning blend:
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons pink peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons dried diced onion
2 teaspoons dried parsley
For the brine:
3 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups ice
For the pork loins:
Two 12-ounce pork tenderloins, silver skin removed
2 large yellow onions, diced
To make the seasoning blend, in a small bowl combine all ingredients. Transfer half of the mixture to a large saucepan. Set aside the remaining seasoning blend.
To make the brine, add the water, salt and brown sugar to the seasoning blend in the saucepan. Set the pan over high and boil until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat, then add the ice and stir until cooled.
Place the pork in a large zip-close bag. Pour the cooled brine over it, then seal the bag and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the pork from the brine, patting it dry with paper towels. Rub the remaining seasoning blend over both tenderloins.
Scatter the onions over the bottom of a roasting pan, then set the pork over them. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the tenderloins reach 145 degrees at the center.
Let the pork rest in the roasting pan for 15 minutes before cutting into thin slices. Serve over the roasted onions.
Nutrition information per serving: 392 calories; 58 calories from fat; 6 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 111 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrate; 37 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,548 mg sodium.