The Weekend Gourmet: November Daring Kitchen Challenge: Cooking with Tea...Featuring Curry-Cumin Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chai-Infused Jasmine Rice F

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Daring Kitchen Challenge: Cooking with Tea...Featuring Curry-Cumin Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chai-Infused Jasmine Rice

After taking a break last month, it’s time for this month’s Daring Kitchen Challenge. Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks' hostess, and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique by cooking a savory dish with tea. I discovered that tea is more commonly used in baking than cooking, so I had to put on my thinking cap to come up with a savory dish that caught my eye. I did some research online and came up with a few ideas, but none of them really grabbed me…until I found a recipe for chai-scented rice served with curry-rubbed pork chops at Cooking Light's website. 

I immediately knew that this recipe would be a great springboard for what I wanted to accomplish with this challenge. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, but kept true to the spirit of the original. Michael loves chai latte, so I knew the flavor profile of chai tea would appeal to him. If you’ve never tasted chai, it’s a black tea that’s flavored with lots of warm, exotic spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black pepper to name a few. 

I opted to use a Berkshire pork tenderloin instead of pork chops, and I marinated it for a few hours in a citrus-soy blend that also included some chai tea. The original rice recipe featured brown rice, orange juice, and chai tea for flavoring. I subbed in fragrant jasmine rice…and I opted to fancy it up a bit, adding chopped pistachios and golden raisins just before serving for added flavor and texture. The results were fabulous…the chai flavor was very subtle in the pork tenderloin, but it paired perfectly with the stronger chai flavor in the rice.

Curry-Cumin Roasted Pork Tenderloin
with Chai-Infused Jasmine Rice
adapted from Cooking Light

Step 1:  Combine the following marinade ingredients in an airtight container: 1 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 tbs. vegetable oil, 1 cup warm water, and 1 chai tea bag (I prefer Tazo brand). Stir to combine and add a 1-pound pork tenderloin. Cover the container and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I flipped my tenderloin over after two hours to make sure it was evenly marinated.

Step 2:  When you're ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 375. Heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. While the skillet heats, make a spice rub by combining: 1 tsp. curry powder, 1 tsp. cumin, and 1 tsp. salt. Rub the spice mixture evenly on the pork tenderloin. Sear until well browned on both sides, then transfer to a roasting pan. Roast the tenderloin for about 25 minutes for medium.

Step 3:  While the pork is roasting, prepare the rice. Bring the following ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over med-high heat: 1 cup water, 1 cup orange juice, and two chai tea bags. Add 1 cup jasmine rice, stir, and reduce heat to med-low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. When the rice has cooked, add the following ingredients: 1/3 cup chopped pistachios, 1/3 cup chopped golden raisins, and the zest of a large orange. Stir to combine, cover, and let the flavors combine for five minutes. When the pork comes out of the oven, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing

Step 4:  To serve, spoon some of the aromatic rice on each plate and top with several slices of the roasted pork tenderloin. I served this dish with my signature salad: field greens, feta, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and raspberry vinaigrette.

The hint of chai spice flavor in the pork played very nicely against the curry-cumin spice rub. The chai flavor was more pronounced in the rice, which I loved. The crunchy pistachios, orange juice and zest, and sweet chewy golden raisins really complimented the chai spices AND the pork. Together, the flavor combination of the pork and rice was unique and satisfying. If you’ve never cooked with tea before, I highly suggest that you give it a try! It’s a fantastic way to impart a unique flavor to your cooking. One of the the things I love most about being about of the Daring Kitchen is that it gets me out of my kitchen comfort zone and encourages me to try new cooking ingredients and techniques.

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