Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin

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I can’t be the only person who has to stop and think every time they see a recipe specifying either pork loin or pork tenderloin. I always have to stop and think which is which. For us, pork tenderloin is just the right size for two people whereas a pork loin is bigger than we could ever conceivably eat.

We eat a lot of pork tenderloin because Angela always asks for it (I think she likes the tenderness). I like pork so I’m pretty happy with it. So I’m always on the lookout for a new method to cook it.

I had purchased San Francisco Flavors from the Barnes & Noble discount shelf when we were in San Francisco. I didn’t know much about it but figured it would, at worst, be provide good memories of the trip. I picked it up while looking for something to make with the pork tenderloin. The ingredients for the Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin looked good so I figured I’d give it a try.

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I had to change the recipe a little bit. I didn’t have any oranges so I substituted lemon zest. I also only had ground cumin so I used that in place of cumin seeds. The only problem I had with the recipe were that it called for twice as long a cooking time as I ended up using. I had put the thermometer in to test it as it hadn’t been working properly before (it was reading 180ºF in the air) and it read 145ºF. I had to use another thermometer to check it as I didn’t believe the first one.

The pork tastes pretty good, particularly if not overcooked. It is, however, quite a bit spicy. Angela cut off the edges of her’s because it was too spicy. If you don’t like it spicy, decrease the amount of red pepper flakes.

Also, Moroccan is hard to spell (one r and two c’s).

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Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from San Francisco Flavors

1 1-lbs pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
1 large garlic clove
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 475ºF.
  2. In a small food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Process until it forms a paste.
  3. Dry the tenderloin with paper towels. Salt and pepper all sides of the pork. Rub the paste on all sides of the pork, as evenly as possible.
  4. Place the pork on a roasting tray and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 145ºF internal temperature. Remove the pork from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice the pork and serve with jasmine rice and sautéed spinach.

Serves 2.

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10 Responses to “Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin”


  1. 1 Loopykd December 9, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    That looks delicious. I’ll definitely try it. I recently made some tenderloin from Paula Dean that was really wonderful. It marinates in soy, ginger, honey, garlic and brown sugar. We also love tenderloin because we are 3 and it fits us perfectly.

  2. 2 monica December 10, 2007 at 8:46 am

    something didn’t sit right with me when i saw the title to this, and after a few seconds i realized that i had never seen any pork products mixed with the word “moroccan.” morocco is mainly a muslim country so they don’t eat pork, but it doesn’t matter since the climate isn’t condusive to raising pigs anyway. i suppose SF flavors is trying to mix things up, putting some warmer spices with pork, which usually works well. but for some reason it still makes me uneasy, the same way it makes me uneasy to see someone putting cheese on shellfish. regardless, it looks tasty, i just wish that the name of the dish was different. (especially since the spices don’t seem particularly essential to moroccan cooking anyway)

  3. 3 Matt December 10, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Monica, I think you might be right. I was just reproducing the name of the recipe as it appeared in the cookbook. The recipe claims that cumin and garlic are traditional Moroccan seasonings. I have no idea how accurate that really is. There does appear to be a small Christian minority (1% of population) that could be the source of the pork recipe.

    I’d also think the Moroccan climate would be conducive to raising pigs as the rest of the Mediterranean area is (i.e. Spain and Italy) and I wouldn’t see a reason Morocco wouldn’t be. I’m not particularly familiar with the climate there so I could be wrong.

  4. 4 Kat December 10, 2007 at 11:32 am

    This looks so good I’m making it tonight…!

    And in regards to the title, I think that that is why it is called “Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin” not “Moroccan Pork Tenderloin”. It’s a little verbal trick, see?

    In any case, I’m willing the clock to move faster just so I can be sitting down to this! I’m going to mix things up even more by making it with green beans…

  5. 5 atw December 10, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Monica is right and I had the same reaction…Moroccans don’t eat pork let alone have a recipe for one. This is the equivalent of claiming that a Jewish recipe includes bacon or, for that matter, pork.

  6. 6 Matt December 10, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    atw, I agree with you. I didn’t really think much of it when I made the recipe the other day but in some ways I wish I had. I merely reproduced the recipe title as it was presented in the cookbook. It was, however, pretty good.

    Of course, I did have a Jewish friend that celebrated Passover with ham . It was actually a combination Passover/Easter dinner and he wasn’t what I would describe as observant.

  7. 7 Andysnat December 10, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I just noticed this recipe on the wordpress start page, and had to comment about the obvious oddness about having Moroccan and Pork in the same recipe.

    I lived in Rabat for a few years, and there are a few pork butchers around, but very few. I’ve eaten bacon in Maroc, (at the American club of all places) and it was nice to have the opportunity.

    As to the recipe, I would want to add some dried apricots, some toasted almond slices, saffron and coriander (I think you Americans call coriander “Cilantro”) to get a truly authentic flavour, and I’d probably use lamb rather than pork.

    Moroccan cuisine is excellent, and I miss it a lot.

  8. 8 moroccanlamps December 24, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    lol, I’m Moroccan this is the first time in my life that I hear Moroccan pork tenderloin that like saying Chinese French fries or German tacos. It’s probably off the homework of a chef when he had to do his own dish in culinary school. Moroccans don’t eat pork only the very small number of people maybe less than 1%, maybe the included Moroccan spices with pork and that about it. This is a website that contains Moroccan recipes http://www.moroccan-recipes.com/

  9. 9 Matt December 24, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I wonder if I had made a post about Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs if it would have generated so much controversy (well, relatively speaking). But I really do appreciate learning more about Moroccan cuisine and this has definitely given me the opportunity to do so.

    In the future I’ll have to take a little closer look at recipe titles before I post them on here. Somehow the connection between Morocco and pork didn’t seem suspect to me when I first saw it.

    And, as a sort of penance, I bought a copy of Arabesque and hope to make some Moroccan recipes out of it once I return from Florida. So look for them in the coming weeks (and I’d appreciate knowing how authentic those recipes are).

  10. 10 Greg January 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Matt–I think I know where you were going when you shared this recipe. For me, it is not necessarily the authenticity of the dish itself (i.e. in the case the use of pork) but the authenticity of the spirit and technique of the recipe. I love the way Moroccan recipes so skillfully combine the sweet with the savory. Unfortunately as the recipe appears in San Francisco Flavors, I don’t think they’ve done justice to the technique.

    I too have used pork in Moroccan-influenced dishes. To the above ingredients I have added 1t allspice, 1t ground cumin, 1t ground ginger, 1t kosher salt, 1/2t ground cinnamon, 1/2t ground coriander, and 1/2t cayenne pepper and 1 well-ripened pear and a bit of pear juice. I omitted the red pepper flakes. I have prepared this both in a slow cooker or in a low-heat oven.

    If you don’t like pears, I find you can substitute other fruits in their place. Apricots are found in many Moroccan recipes; but again, the spirit of the cooking allows you to use a sweet fruit that you like – it gets balanced so nicely by the deep rich flavours of the spices!


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