Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

You might imagine, if you aren't a teacher, that having summers "off" is a pretty great perk of the job.  Well, it is.  

Teachers, like all professionals, need time to plan, rest, and rejuvenate before they perform.  I think every profession includes this mix of planning and performance (i.e. a big presentation in front of potential clients or a lawyer's time in trial), its just that teachers spend the entire school year performing daily and this leaves little time for planning...and almost none for rest and rejuvenation.  So that's what summer is all about - the really creative and innovative curriculum design that we come back excited to use with our students.

Part of that feeling of rejuvenation comes from the freedom to work, or not work and sleep, or not work and read a book, WHENEVER I WANT.  Deadlines are extremely frequent and rigid in the teaching world, including the "stop sleeping at 4:30am" deadline and the "last cup of coffee at 2pm" deadline, so this is a welcome change.  And ultimately that takes me to my favorite part of summer: I CAN DRINK COFFEE WHENEVER I WANT.    I CAN PUT COFFEE IN MY FOOD AND EAT IT FOR DINNER IF I WANT.  

So, I did.
The result was a meal I would definitely make again for a special occasion dinner.  Rubbing pork with coffee grounds and cayenne pepper produced a really rich and smoky crust.  It was delicious, and I would highly recommend saving some for a cold sandwich the next day.  But really, what sort of stole the show for this post was the blueberry balsamic reduction.  It is like WHAT.  I'm still eating it by the spoonful long after the pork was eaten up (but smear some on that sandwich before you do).  Now go have yourself a nice after dinner digestif or espresso!

Ingredients: Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (made about three servings):
  • 1.25 lbs. pork tenderloin (go with .5 lbs a person for a larger dinner portion)
  • 1 tbsp. ground coffee beans (finely ground if possible, but not as fine as espresso)
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
Ingredients: Blueberry Balsamic Reduction
  • 2 tbsp. finely diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

You can prepare this pork by either grilling it, or searing it and finishing it in the oven.  I did the latter by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and heating a cast-iron grill pan on high heat (you can also use a standard grill pan or frying pan).

Trim the tenderloin of any fat and tendons.  Mix the coffee grounds, cayenne, and salt, then rub it evenly on the pork.
Sear each side in the hot pan until browned, about two minutes each side before turning.   Transfer to the oven to cook through for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a half tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot.  Add the diced onions and cook until golden over medium heat.  Then, add the blueberries and cook until wilted and juicy, about 5 minutes on high heat. 
Keeping the heat under the pan high, add the balsamic vinegar.  Stir regularly as it boils and reduce it until it is the consistency of a runny jam.  It should stick to a spoon and wipe clean with your finger.  This should take about 20 minutes - so be sure to take out the pork as it starts to thicken.
When the pork comes out of the oven, wrap it in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for ten minutes.  The balsamic should be about finished and you can cook up a vegetable while you wait.
Slice the pork on a bias and plate with the vegetable and balsamic reduction on top.


  1. I ever try this menu but yours is really different. I would taste it. I never mix the coffee grounds, cayenne. I just use salt and make normal food.

    But I would try to do it with Mixture of coffee grounds, cayenne, and salt..

    puff and pie

  2. Hey very nice, I made this tonight and I loved it. Very daring mix of flavors, I'm a fan.

  3. Loved this recipe! Thanks for the great photos and simple instructions!

  4. Is it spicy? My kids don't do spicy and 1/2 T of cayenne seems like that would be HOT.

  5. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. cold brew

  6. I read this recipe and thought that the concept was great but if I had followed the recipe as written it would have been inedible. Half a tablespoon of cayenne pepper would have destroyed any other flavors in the dish. I changed it to half a teaspoon and it was still too much even for folks like us who like spicy food. I used balsamic vinegar but I think it would have been better to have just used a red wine or perhaps cranberry juice because the astringency of the vinegar just overpowered the flavor of the pork tenderloin and the blueberries.

  7. I don't see an oven temperature!!!!!


    1. You can prepare this pork by either grilling it, or searing it and finishing it in the oven. I did the latter by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and heating a cast-iron grill pan on high heat (you can also use a standard grill pan or frying pan).

  8. Amazing! Will definitely do this again. Just the right amount of spice and sweet with the blueberries and ridiculously easy.

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