COFFEE rubbed PORK TENDERLOIN // BLUEBERRY BALSAMIC reduction
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
- 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.