Spicy Pork with Sweet Potato Hash

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One often reads about dry rubs when looking at barbeque recipes, because it’s quite common to dry rub a pork loin or a brisket before being placed in a smoker. But a rub, which is typically a mixture of spices and herbs, doesn’t have to be rubbed onto meat days before serving, or only used when smoking. In fact, in a way, coating a whole chicken with lots of herbs, spices, salt and pepper is essentially a rub. The reason it’s traditionally called a dry rub is that it’s not a paste or a more liquid marinade. Just dry seasoning.

A rub is a wonderful way to add flavor to meat, even meat that takes very little time to prepare. Today I’m cooking two pork tenderloins, and using chili powder for the rub. Yes – just chili powder – the mix used in chile con carne.

The brand of chili powder I like is from Penzey’s. But of course, all you have to do is mix together paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and you’d end up with the same mixture, essentially. Plus, you can adapt it to suit your taste, like add chile pepper powders, for example, like ancho and chipotle.

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The pork I’m using is Berkshire pork purchased from D’Artagnan.

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I first let the pork tenderloins come to nearly room temperature. Meanwhile, set your oven to a good roasting temperature. I have a “roast” setting on my oven, but roasting usually involved about 400 degrees, at least for about 15 minutes, and then the temperature of the oven can be reduced. The important thing with pork tenderloin, as with all meat, is to cook it properly.

I never let pork tenderloin’s internal temperature go beyond 155 degrees Farenheit. Some people don’t like the hint of pink, and go with 165 degrees. That is just personal preference.

Place a little olive oil in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the tenderloins.
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Generously sprinkle on the chili powder, rotate the tenderloins in the oil, and sprinkle on more chili powder.
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Make sure the tenderloins are coated with oil and the seasoning mixture. I always tuck under the smaller ends of the tenderloins.
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If you were to be picky, this really isn’t a dry rub since since the tenderloins are coated in oil, but because this meat is very lean, I wanted the oil. Plus, it just helps the seasoning stick.

Place the pan in the oven and roast until done.

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Immediately place the tenderloins on a cutting board and let them sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the sweet potato hash by adding a little oil to a large skillet and adding some diced bacon.

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Cook only part way, then add some finely diced onion to the bacon.

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After sauteing the mixture for just a couple of minutes, add grated sweet potato. Season with salt and white pepper.
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Use a medium setting, but adjust the heat accordingly. Toss the sweet potato with the bacon and onions, and then let the sweet potato cook, undisturbed, for a couple of minutes. Turn the mixture over; there will be minimal browning, but the sweet potato is cooking. You know if you’re at too high of heat if the bacon and sweet potato burn.

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Add a little butter and let it melt. After a couple of undisturbed minutes, flip over the sweet potato hash again.
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It should be nicely browned. If you feel more cooking is required, continue at a medium-to-low setting, or place a lid over the skillet. However, if you want any crispness to the hash, give it a little browning right before serving.

Slice the pork tenderloin.
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Serve with the sweet potato hash, and a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts.

I used some of the “jus” from the roasting pan and drizzled it over the pork for extra flavor. It was not oily at all.
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For people who need recipes for simple, quick meals, this one fits the bill. As soon as the oven is preheated, in goes the pork tenderloin with a spicy coating. During the short time in the oven, no more than 30 minutes, the sweet potato hash is done. Easy, flavorful, and fabulous for fall!

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