Cherries can be such teases. I mean, who do they think they are, tasting so amazing but coming in season for such a teeny sliver of a moment? But then I love that cherries are a reminder of seasonality and how something at its prime really is at its prime and far superior in taste that any other moment in the year. So, I take what I can get — be they Bing, Chelan, Lambert, or Rainier — and use them in as many recipes as possible, provided of course I haven’t eaten them all first.
This spicy cherry salsa is a favorite around here because it’s sweet, spicy, tart, and herby and can be made in approximately two and a half milliseconds. No, really, it’s fast (so long as you have a cherry pitter, of course). And though cocoa-rubbed pork is as 90s a trend as the Backstreet Boys, it’s really a perfect pairing here. The earthy cocoa flavors, the spice of the chiles, the sweetness of the cherries, this recipe is a serious seasonal winner.
Cocoa-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa Recipe
- 2 cups sweet cherries pitted and halved (about 12 ounces)
- 1 jalapeño stemmed and finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1 shallot finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves finely chopped
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground chile powder
- 1 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
- For the cherry salsa: Toss cherries, jalapeño, shallot, pomegranate molasses, basil, and a pinch of salt and a crank of pepper together in a large nonreactive bowl. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- For the pork: To butterfly the pork, place the tenderloin on a cutting board with one end pointing toward you. Slice lengthwise down the center, almost but not quite cutting through the tenderloin, leaving about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness of meat intact. Open like a book and push on it to flatten.
- Starting on the left side, with the blade of the knife parallel to the cutting board and the blade facing left, slice down the length of the seam, maintaining the 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness. Pull the meat open and press down to flatten. Continue cutting and flattening until the entire left half is 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness. Rotate the tenderloin and repeat on the other half.
- Combine the olive oil, cocoa, chile powder, sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a small mixing bowl until well combined then coat the pork all over with the mixture. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. When ready to grill, remove the pork the fridge and set aside at least 20 minutes at room temperature before grilling.
- Heat an outdoor grill to high (about 450°F to 550°F) and rub the grill grates with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Place the pork on the grill, and cover the grill. Cook, flipping once, until grill marks appear and the pork registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest a few minutes. Slice thinly and serve with cherry salsa.