Let me just preface this story by saying that neither Andy nor I have particularly sensitive stomachs or issues with offensive smells. We have two cats and a dog and are no strangers to disgusting odors.
That being said…you know how when you eat something that doesn’t quite settle well with you, it might take you awhile to eat that certain food again? Well, this experience was so bad that it’s taken me two weeks to even write about it, and I’m sorry to say that I think it will be a very long time before we make pork ribs or tenderloin again.
It all started out so innocently. We were getting ready to prepare the quintessential Football Sunday dinner: a rack of baby back pork ribs that would be barbecued to perfection later that day. Out came the vacuum-packed rack and all the necessary tools, along with our favorite spice rub. Even at 11 in the morning, our mouths were already watering; we could almost taste those juicy ribs.
Then Andy cut open the package and almost threw up.
The stench that overtook the kitchen was unlike anything I have ever smelled. Thinking that maybe it was just that nasty pork juice that accumulates in the bag, we rinsed off the ribs hoping to remedy the situation. Andy bravely took another huge whiff and almost threw up again. I also took a big sniff, apparently not wanting to miss out on the action, and confirmed what we already knew. The pork was rotten, and probably had been for days. The windows flew open and the pork was relegated to the outdoor trash (where it continued to reek until garbage day).
At this point we were not yet completely ruined. We still had a hankering for pork, so we decided to have pork tenderloin instead. Dinnertime came and we opened the package of pork tenderloin. It smelled faintly like the ribs, but not knock your socks off bad. I rinsed it off and still caught a bit of an odd smell. Against my better judgment, I proceeded with dinner. This ended up being a great dish, but I should have trusted my instincts when it came to the smell. We paid for that later…
But don’t let our bad experience stop you from giving this one a chance.
Spice-rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine and Cherry Sauce
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Costco’s Kirkland Tart Montmorency Cherries)
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 1/4 cup red wine (plus extra to rehydrate cherries)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Put cherries in a bowl and cover with red wine. Let sit to rehydrate.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, sauté shallots in a splash of olive oil until soft. Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the cherries. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer. Check for seasonings. (Depending on the wine and tartness of cherries, more salt and/or sugar may be needed.) Reduce for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
8 crispy gingersnap cookies, ground in a food processor (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
Mix first four ingredients together. Sprinkle rub all over pork and press into the meat. (If you do this ahead and let it sit, the rub will get fairly wet, which is fine. It will crisp back up when seared.)
Preheat oven to 400. When ready to cook, heat some olive oil in an ovenproof pan. When very hot, sear the pork on all sides to create a crust. Transfer pan into the oven and roast until the pork is at desired doneness. (I like my pork a little pink, and roasted it for 12 minutes.) When done, remove and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Slice and serve pork with sauce spooned over the top.
Each bite of the spice-crusted pork paired with the bold, tart sauce was delicious. Hints of ginger and cinnamon warmed the dish, reminiscent of holiday flavors. The pork itself was tender and moist. This is definitely a dish I will make again…although in the very distant future.
Turns out I was right about the tenderloin not smelling so good. Our stomachs will attest to that. So even though I loved this meal, I don’t think I could eat it again anytime soon. I’ll need to get the memory of that bad pork smell out of my head before I revisit this one. But we love pork far too much to be permanently scarred. (And this of course excludes bacon. Nothing could stop me from eating bacon. Ever.)