Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin

This has become a repeat recipe because it’s so easy and flavorful. It takes barely any time at all except for the oven-roasting. And I keep all the rub spices in my pantry, so I only have to purchase the actual pork. Here’s what to do!

1. Buy a pork loin. I usually get between 2.5 – 5 lb ones and plan to use the leftovers in another meal. Take said pork loin home!

2. Trim pork loin of fat, if you’d like to. Sometimes it’s unnecessary because there’s not too much, but other times I’ve cut off lots.

For example.

For example.

2. Get out a little mixing bowl and a whisk. Combine the following ingredients (I suggest measuring with a tablespoon) and whisk to combine:
1.5 part Garlic Powder
1 part Salt (Kosher is best but regular table salt is fine)
1/2 part Black Pepper (freshly ground is great for rubs)
1.5 parts Paprika
2 parts Cocoa Powder
1 parts Basil
1 parts Thyme
*Red Pepper Flakes (just a dash or two)
*1 part Coffee grounds
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*I have done the rub with and without these spices. Red pepper flakes obviously add a bit more spice and heat; the coffee grounds add a neutralizing kind of smoky flavor. (I know that’s a bad description, but you just have to try it and trust me!)

3. Using your raw meats cutting board, shake or sprinkle some of that spice mixture onto the pork loin, and use either your hands or a pastry brush to rub it into the meat.
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4. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil (for easy clean-up). Cook in a preheated 350º oven for about 1 hour for every 2 lbs. (For my 2.5 lb loin, I baked it at 375º for 1 hour.) Now I never use an internal thermometer… I just use my tongs to ‘feel’ how done it is. You want to check the middle-most part of the loin. It should be firm, but still ‘bounce back’ a little. The more you cook this way, the more you’ll understand the ‘feel’ you’re looking for.
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Before cooking...

Before cooking…

And after!

And after!

5. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes, more like 10 if you have a 5 pounder. Slice that bad boy up and serve with applesauce! Great for dipping and especially when you have kids, because it counteracts the spice in the rub.

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The general recommendation for home cooks when making pork is that there should be no pink. But really, that’s not true – having some pink is not only okay but desirable. If it’s white all the way through, it will be dry and chewy.

Hope you and your family enjoy as much as we do!
Have leftovers? Use them up in this comforting, delicious, Double Pork Chili second meal.

Spice-rubbed Pork Loin

Spice-rubbed Pork Loin

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Double Pork Chili (Second Meal)

By now, most of you probably know my concept of Second Meals: planning a different, second meal using leftovers from a separate meal earlier in the week. Usually, when I make a spice-rubbed pork loin, I make my default Second Meal with the leftovers: Pork Pozole Soup. But today was unseasonably cold, and I wanted something a little heartier. Soup just wasn’t going to cut it tonight! I remembered I had some previously-cooked ground sausage in the fridge from earlier in the week, and suddenly I knew what I would make instead! So here’s what I did (list of ingredients at end of post). Keep in mind I was just using up leftover portions of much of this produce from earlier meals, so you can adjust your quantities to taste.

Start with a tablespoon or two of butter and a tablespoon of EVOO in a large stock pot. Once the butter is melted, add about half a red onion, chopped. After a minute or two of sauteeing, add 2 diced cloves of garlic. I then roughly chopped a few mini-bella mushrooms and added them. Next, half of a jalapeno, finely diced. I also had a bag of those tiny cocktail bell peppers, so I added 1 orange and 1 red, finely chopped. Stir and saute for a minute or two. I added 1/2 a beefsteak tomato, roughly chopped. Then I peeled, quartered, and finely chopped about 1 1/2 carrots. (Use 2 whole ones if they’re smaller – mine were quite large!) Then I sprinkled saltcumin and paprika once around the pot. Stir again! Next I squeezed the juice from half a lime in with the veggies and, of course, stirred. Next I used up the rest of my pesto tomato paste (regular is fine too) – it was probably about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Stir in until it is almost a veggie paste. You don’t want big clumps of the tomato paste. Let that cook for a good 2-3 minutes, then deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of red wine (I used merlot, because that’s what I drink these days!). Stir and cook for a few more minutes until fully incorporated.

Delicious veggies and sausage... You will become CHILI soon!

Delicious veggies and sausage… You will become CHILI soon!

Now that the veggies are finished, we can add our meat! First I added that previously cooked ground sausage leftover from an earlier dinner. It didn’t take too long for that to incorporate once I stirred it up a bit. Then I pulled out my spice-rubbed pork loin from last night and chopped it up. (Recipe to come!) **Because this pork is highly seasoned, I don’t need a lot of seasonings in the chili itself.** I added about a cup to the chili mixture. Let that sit for a few, then added a can of petite diced tomatoes. Stir and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until it starts to boil again. Then add your beef stock – again I had this in the fridge from another recipe. I probably used less than a cup. I suggest adding it gradually, because you can always add more, but as the chili cooks, it will reduce to less liquid. Lastly you can add about 1/4 cup of frozen corn and stir.

Bring it up to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 4 hours, or however long you want. Again remember the longer it cooks the more it will reduce! If you let it go too long and it’s thick or almost burned, you can add a little more beef stock and let it simmer for awhile longer (20-30 minutes should do it).

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese (or Mexican blend) and sour cream! Yummy!

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Double-pork Chili

Double-pork Chili

*If you want a little more spice, add one or a few of the following after the veggies but before the deglazing: red pepper flakes, cayenne, or chili powder. I left these out so it wouldn’t be overly spicy for the kids – but my choice would be 2 dashes of chili powder and 1 or 2 shakes of red pepper flakes!

You will need:
Butter & EVOO
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4-5 mini Portobello mushrooms
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 small cocktail bell peppers (1 orange, 1 red), finely chopped
1/2 Beefsteak tomato, roughly chopped
1 1/2 – 2 carrots, peeled, quartered, and finely chopped
Cumin, Paprika, Salt, Pepper
Optional: Chili powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne
Juice from half a lime
1 1/2 TBLspn tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 chub previously cooked ground sausage
1/2-1 cup chopped leftover spice-rubbed pork loin
1 can petite diced tomatoes
Beef Stock (about 1/2 cup, maybe)
1/4 cup frozen corn
Cheddar Cheese, Sour cream, any other garnishes you wish
*Beans of your choice are optional – I didn’t have any to add, but it was delicious without!

Remember that I usually cook with OHI – whatever I have in my kitchen at the moment. Mix it up to use whatever you have – it’ll be delicious, and you’ll feel resourceful! 🙂

Herb & Spice Rubbed Pork Loin

I tried a new spice rub tonight. I combined a few flavors I like, but honestly was taking a risk — I had no idea if they’d be good together. This is another example of me trying to be healthier – making my own seasonings instead of using store-bought, pre-packaged options with lots of preservatives.

Well, it was worth the risk!! The crust on the pork was a little sweet, a little spicy, a little salty. The pork was perfectly tender and juicy. Just look…

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The only thing I might change next time is to stud it with garlic cloves. Because, Yum! You can’t really go wrong with garlic.

Here’s the recipe for the rub:
2 Tblspn Ground coffee
2 Tblspn Brown Sugar
1 3/4 Tblspn Kosher Salt
1 Heaping Tblspn Thyme
1 Tblspn Oregano
3/4 Tblspn Garlic Powder
1/2 Tblspn Crushed Red Pepper
15 Turns of the grinder of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

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Combine in a bowl and whisk to mix

The pork loin I bought was just under 4 lbs. There was some rub left, so if you have a smaller loin, I’d half the recipe.

To prepare the pork, first pat dry with paper towels. Then, if you like, trim some fat off using a sharp knife.

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Fat adds flavor and keeps it tender, so don’t remove ALL of it.

Then begin to add the rub. I like to kind of pour it out of the bowl first…

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Then I use a large pastry brush to spread it and cover the entire surface of the pork, starting in the middle and working out to each side. Then flip it over onto or into your baking dish so the fat side is down (I used a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, but I’ve also used a glass dish). Repeat the rub process on the other side.

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After the flip, before applying the rub.

Make sure you cover all the sides as well.

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Completely rubbed pork

I let mine sit for 45 minutes or so in the fridge and then put it in an oven preheated to 350°. Bake for an hour, and then let rest for 10 minutes.

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Look at those yummy juices!

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Sliced, juicy, and tender after letting it rest

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Delicious rub! So much flavor

I’ll definitely be making this again. I served it with applesauce and steamed spinach. Nearly everyone had seconds, and I’ll use what is leftover for my Minezole soup tomorrow!

Happy Cooking!!

Spring Pork Loin with Citrus Garlic Ginger Crust and Apple Onion ‘Salsa’

You know what’s great about trying new cuisine or ingredients? You can try them in new ways – or, I suppose, OLD ways with a new twist.

Are you confused? Sorry. Let me explain in detail:
This week I attempted Indian food for the first time – Tandoori Salmon. It was actually AMAZING. I bought fresh ginger for the recipe. I’ve used ginger before, but not very often. The combination of the extra ginger sitting there and the marinade I made for the salmon gave me an idea. I scrapped the recipe I was going to try for my Thursday meal and made up my own instead!

And now I’ll share it with you! I’m calling it “Spring Pork Loin” because I suppose I’m wishful thinking. It is mid-March after all, and the weather has topped 50º more than once this week! (But then again, in Chicago that means nothing. Reluctant prediction: we will get another snow storm in April.)

Pay attention to the captions on the photos – they include instructions!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Not pictured: 1 orange, cinnamon, soy sauce

Not pictured: cinnamon, soy sauce, 1 orange

I started with a 4 lb. pork loin which I patted dry with paper towels. Next I made the marinade, which also serves as our liquid for the crock pot.

1/8 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup soy sauce

Enough red wine to come to almost 3/4 cup - then add the juice of one orange

Enough red wine to come to almost 3/4 cup – then add the juice of half an orange

Now brush that marinade onto the pork.

I always use a pastry brush. I've never used it for pastry. ;)

I always use a pastry brush – which I’ve actually never used for pastry. 😉

I let that sit while I made the “crust”:

Start with about a 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Start with about a 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Add 1 Tblspn diced garlic and the zest from your orange

Add 1 Tblspn diced garlic and the zest from your orange

Stir in the Dijon mustard, then brush that ‘crust’ onto the pork:
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Be sure to get all sides and cover thoroughly. (More crust = more flavor!)

Put that baby in the crock pot!

Put that baby in the crock pot! (Fat side down)

Pour the remaining marinade into the pot. Just be careful not to wash away the crust. I poured mine in that little space you see above the pork.

Make the apple onion salsa by slicing an apple (I used Gala and a quarter of a Golden Delicious we had in the fridge. You see, I really do save and use everything. – almost -) and putting it in a bowl. Cut up half of a white onion by slicing vertically through the bulb 3 times, cutting in half crosswise, and then cutting a few times crosswise again to get big chunks. Put in bowl with apple. Add the applesauce, orange juice, and cinnamon, and toss.
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Now (gently) dump that ‘salsa’ on top of the pork! (I’m calling it a salsa because it’s the only word that comes close to a chunky kind of sauce. It’s not a slaw. It’s not a chutney. So it’s a salsa!)
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Cover any bit of the pork that is showing by moving the chunks around.

Now put on the lid and cook for 8 – 9 hours on LOW. I originally cooked mine for 8 on low, but had to cook it for an additional 30 mins on HIGH because it wasn’t as tender as I wanted.
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Here’s the finished product, ready to eat!
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Look at how caramelized the apples and onions were. They not only got soft but also soaked up the juice. The ginger and orange juice are bright against the deep, traditional ‘au jus’ flavors of the marinade, which is further balanced by the sweet apples. And the crust just melted right into the pork. So, maybe it was more of a ‘rub’ than a ‘crust’, since a crust implies crunchy, and crunchy it was not. It did however impart that nice spring flavor and extra layer of texture. All the pork has this great ginger scent. It’s just a hint, not too spicy or overwhelming. The meat was falling apart into shreds – just perfect to make a Second Meal of pork tacos or pork sandwiches!
I served it with a slightly modified version of these 
roasted sweet potatoes (yes, I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon!).

If you’re craving spring, give this a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredient List:
1 4lb Pork Loin
Marinade:
1/8 C soy sauce
–up to 3/4C red wine
Juice from 1 orange
Crust:
2 Tblspn Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 Tblspn diced garlic
Zest from 1 orange
Apple Salsa:
1 Apple, sliced
Half large white onion, chopped
1/3 C Applesauce
Juice from 1/2 an orange
Few dashes of cinnamon (I used 5)

Garlic & Onion Crusted Pork Loin with Red Wine Jus

Every Thursday my eldest has dance class from 4-5. It is at least a 15 minute drive, more if we get stuck in rush hour traffic. I knew when I signed her up that I’d have to be strategic about dinners on these days. I figured it was a perfect opportunity to try new slow cooker meals!
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Most times my meal planning is influenced by the sales that week. This particular week, pork loin was on sale, so I searched for pork loin crock pot recipes. I came up with this: Amazing Pork Tenderloin in the Slow Cooker. However, since Kelly’s Honest Mom interview, I’ve been following her tips to read labels, and trying to do better in choosing products with more natural ingredients. One of the ingredients in this recipe was Onion Soup Mix. I checked the label at the store, and it had dehydrated onions, salt, onion powder, and some paprika – and a bunch of things I couldn’t pronounce. I decided to skip the mix and replicate the spices myself. I also adjusted the recipe because I bought a 4.8lb pork loin, and the recipe only calls for 2lbs. (I’m planning on making a Second Meal with the leftovers!)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Pork Loin (again, mine was 4.8lbs)
1/2 c chopped onion
4 Tbspn minced garlic
3 Tbspn Soy Sauce
3/4 c Red Wine
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp Onion Salt
1 c Water
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First I trimmed the pork loin of some of the fat, since the hubs and I are eating healthier. But don’t remove it all – you’ve got to leave some for flavor and tenderness!
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Then I cut it in half (it was big! too big to fit in my crock pot otherwise) and layered the chunks in the crock pot.
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Next I sprinkled the seasonings over top (onion salt & garlic powder) and added the liquids: wine, water, and soy sauce. Be sure to pour some of the soy sauce directly on the meat – it will sink in and make for a delicious bite!
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Next I placed the onion and garlic over top of the meat and cracked the pepper over top.
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Replace the lid and cook on low for 8 hours.

When it’s about half-way through the cooking time, splash 4 more dashes soy sauce and about 1-2 more tablespoons red wine directly on the meat.

Good luck resisting the amazing garlic smell coming from the crock pot all day. It’s worth the wait though, with a distinct saltiness and tender pork that pulls apart with no effort at all. The onions and garlic almost form a crust on top. So good!
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Save that juice and pour some over your meat and whatever side you choose; I served it with egg noodles and homemade creamed spinach.
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Save the leftovers for a Second Meal – pulled pork sandwiches, wraps (they’d be great with avocado, lime, and a little cheese!) or pork soup!

Spanish Pork Loin with Apple Slaw

In 24 hours, I have fallen completely in love with this pork loin recipe. Maybe infatuated is the better term. The rub gives you heat, spice, and a little salt. The apple slaw/salsa/whatever you want to call it adds a little sweet, a little sour, a little cooling effect, and good texture. I could probably eat this for the next several days and not grow tired of it. It’s that complex and well thought out.

That said, I wish I had thought of this myself. Alas, I found it on Pinterest or Google or through some other search engine. Click here for the original recipe.  As usual, I modified a bit. Some due to the fact that the original recipe only calls for 1lb of pork (who buys a pork loin that’s only 1lb?!) and mine was a little over 4, but also to adjust so it wasn’t too spicy and my kids could still eat it.

The adjustments I made are below:

THE RUB
Instead of TEASPOON measurements, I used TABLESPOON, plus a little more. I’d say maybe half a tablespoon more than what it called for.
I did not have pimenton, so I used regular old paprika. (Thank goodness, I thought, a mild seasoning!)

THE TRIMMING
I did trim the loin lengthwise, removing a piece of fat that ran the whole length of the pork. But I left the rest of the little bits on for some extra flavor!

THE SALSA
I did not measure anything. I diced one average size Granny Smith, used the juice from one large lime, peeled a little of the peel off, approximated the cilantro, and substituted about 1/8cup applesauce for apple juice (only because I forgot juice at the store – but to our benefit. I think it would’ve been too watery with juice). The only thing that was exact was the jalapeno. I had exactly 1 half left from guacamole I made last week. I finely diced it though (don’t think the kids would appreciate strips of jalapeno!).

THE COOKING
I’m sure this is great on an outdoor grill, but when I made this last night it was 16º during the day time. I wasn’t about to shovel my deck and stand in the freezing cold. So I cut the loin into fourths before I rubbed it, pulled out the grill pan, smoked my best friend out of my house, and finished it in the oven. I would say 6 minutes on each side is pretty accurate. Maybe a few more. You want it still soft and springy in the middle. Then cook it for about 30 minutes at 375º. Slice and spoon the salsa over top. I served it with broccoli and some Parmesan noodles, but Spanish rice would’ve been the perfect compliment.

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DELICIOUS!!! And the leftovers are perfect to use in my “MINEZOLE” soup. (Recipe to follow, stay tuned!)

Bonus: I discovered that apparently this slaw is the only way my 17mos old will eat the WHOLE apple- not spitting it out after she sucks the juice out. Score!

Honey Garlic Pork Loin (First Meal)

If you aren’t aware, I plan my meals based on the grocery sales each week. Sometimes that means stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a new cut of meat or cooking it a different way. Lots of times it involves Google, and lately, Pinterest! So when pork roast went on sale last week, I picked one up after searching and coming up with this recipe: Honey Garlic & Onion Pork Loin. The author actually is a Word Press user: http://myworldasamom.wordpress.com/

I followed the recipe except that I didn’t have dried dill so I omitted that ingredient.
I love that the glaze is sweet but the seasonings add a nice herbal flavor to it.

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So enjoy trying out this recipe and use the leftovers as a Second Meal in my “Minezole Soup”!!