And as usual I’m back to my favorite Brazilian food book series, “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine) this time to the book about food from Paraíba, a state which borders where I grew up (Pernambuco). This is a recipe for pork tenderloin marinated with cachaça (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane, which can now be found in many stores in the US) and “mel de engenho” (molasses). Since the beginning of the colonization of Brazil brought many sugar mills (“engenhos”) to that region in the mid 1500’s, sugar and sugar-derived foods have been a part of the local culinary for many years now.
This recipe had many ingredients which I like – pork, cachaça, and a combination of savory and sweet flavors which go really well with pork. The citric fruits (pineapple, orange and limes) combined greatly with the meat, and this turned out to be one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a long time, and will certainly be repeated in the future. It is also fairly easy to make, although it needs a long prep time.
Ingredients (for 6 people)
- About 3lb. pork tenderloins, fat trimmed
- 2/3 cup cachaça (I used one which I had from the state of Paraíba, to add to the authenticity, but since it was used in a marinade, any decent brand would work)
- 2 tbsp. molasses
- 1 orange, sliced in 1/4” circles
- 1 lime, sliced in 1/4” circles
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 15 whole cloves (the recipe asked for ~1tsp. ground cloves, but since I only had the whole cloves, I used them and it didn’t cause any problems)
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 pineapple (lengthwise), cut in 1/2” slices
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
The day before: store the tenderloins with the cachaça, molasses, sliced orange / lime and some salt in a closed Ziploc bag (or any recipient to hold the marinade, but remember to cover it with plastic film – the bag was the easiest thing I could find). Every 6 hours or so, shake the bag (or turn the tenderloins in the recipient) for the marinade to act over the meat evenly.
On a large pan, heat the oil and the butter. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade (don’t discard the marinade), and fry each side of them in the pan, until it starts browning. Strain the rest of the marinade into the pan, and add the orange juice. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 1.5 hours, turning the tenderloins a few times throughout the cooking.
On a non-stick pan lightly buttered, fry the pineapple slices (both sides) then serve them with the pork, drizzling the sauce from the pan over it. Serve it with white rice, farofa de cuscuz and “feijão de corda” (black-eyed peas, recipe to come soon).