Pork tenderloin with MOJO
Pork tenderloin, 1/3 kg ( 2/3 lb ) one regular sized piece
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Limes or Lemons, 2 Juiced
Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped fine
Red pepper, 2 chopped fine (optional)
Onion, 1 chopped fine (optional)
Bell peppers, 1 chopped fine (optional)
Yellow Aji, 1 tbsp or paprika
Materials and Methods
I do admit: I like invisibility. Invisibility in a very specific way: IM invisibilty. The best way to do that is to hide in plain sight. So I am always available on all instant messengers all the time.
Add that to the fact that I live on a weird timezone and there’s not a way to know if I am really there.
So a friend left me a single message in the middle of the night:
mojo? mojo? Internets to the rescue!
so I decided to go with a cuban mojo.. that is: olive oil, citrus juice and garlic
While those 3 ingredients were great I missed some extra texture and flavor, so I added some onions and peppers (both sweet and hot) and a tablespoon of paprika or aji
Aji is a powder from Peru and it is a powder made of dried bell peppers. Pretty much in the way that paprika goes. The difference is that aji is yellow and normally not smoked.
I try to get as well stocked of aji as I can get. Thankfully my father in law lives in Peru and is my supplier..
Mojo is a very weird marinate in a sense that that you heat it. I’m used to heating brines to help dissolve the salt.. but heating a marinate, it was a first.
On a small pan.. actually probably on your smallest pan (mine was) start warming the oil on a low heat..
Do not let it get to hot then add the lemon juice stir a little and add the rest of the ingredients.
Do not let it simmer, but warm it evenly for 2 minutes before killing the heat.
Let it sit until it cools a little.
There! You’ve made Mojo.
When I was thinking about what to do with mojo and knowing that I wanted some pork with it, my first idea was some slow braised pork shoulder, but when I got to the butcher and talked to him (and I do suggest doing that always) he suggested pork tenderloin
In Portuguese it goes by the name of “file de lombo” or pork filet mingon and it is a very lean meat and very tender (Yeah tenderloin I get it.) It is probably the best value for money meat that you can get from pork.
Tenderloins are irregular on the cross section and that can lead to uneven cooking so I sliced it in half on the long axis. The two steaks being more even than a a single piece.
Splitting it in two has an extra advantage of creating more surface area for them to absorb flavors from the marinate.
Place them on a bowl (stainless steel or ceramic) and cover with the marinate at room temperature.
Cover with cling film and cool on the fridge for 30 minutes (at least)
Pan frying the tenderloin
Cooking tenderloin is very distinct from cooking high connective meats like shoulder. Instead of a long slow braising in low heat you have to go fast and hot.
So heat you pan on high heat until it is very hot. If you are using a nonstick pan be careful that it can release toxic fumes if you heat it too much. Consider adding a tbsp of oil on it if you are using a nonstick pan.
Remove the fillets from the marinate removing any vegetable bit that sticked to it. Save the marinate you will use it for the sauce.
Pan fry them for 3 minutes on each side. Do not touch or move them once you place them on the pan.
Place on the pan.. wait 3 minutes.. flip them over.. wait 3 minutes.. remove them from the pan
Again: NO POKING!
Rest the tenderloin and start the sauce
Remove the fillets from the pan and let them rest while you make the sauce.
Just move the marinate into the pan remembering to stir it to dislodge any brown bits that stuck to the pan.. Those give an amazing flavor to the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium heat.
Reduce the sauce
You are almost done.
Let it simmer for some 5 to 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has the viscosity of sirup.
Return the tenderloin
Return the fillets to the pan and toss them a little around, coating them with the sauce.
Kill the heat and plate it.
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