Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Aug

Pork Loin with Mango Salsa

I was so excited to bring home my first organic pork tenderloin from the Rhinebeck farmer’s market that I couldn’t quite process the incredulous faces waiting for me when I got back. “It’ll take so long to cook,” the faces-at-home said, directing their eyes to their stomachs, which audibly growled.

I don’t know where the misconception about pork loin came from – probably from other round, “loaf”-like meats, which are notorious for being part of bigger dinner-time productions, typically seen around the holidays; meats that require  thermometers, significant prep time, and all kinds of extra gadgets to make sure they cook the whole way through. But pork loin doesn’t require a lot of fussing. It just needs a little attention, because it is a very lean cut. And while it doesn’t take years to cook, it can cook too quickly, and come out very dry. If you do it right, though, it is perfect in less than 30 minutes.

After I trimmed the loin just a little bit to make the outside smoother, I patted the rub liberally around the outside until it had a nice brown smoky skin. The rub helps produce a very slight crustiness on the outside that adds delicious texture. This chili-powder/cocoa mixture employed as a rub is an important component, but the key to maintaining the delicious, succulent juices of this tender cut of meat is in the heating method.

The heating method I used to cook the loin is what I like to call a “switcheroo” – that is, after a few minutes browning on the stove top skillet at medium heat, I transferred the pork loin to a glass pan and allowed it to finish cooking in the oven. The initial pan-heat is meant to lock in the flavors by cooking the outermost layer of the loin and leaving less work for the oven to do. Since the oven uses a drier, slower method, and tends to be the cause of making meats dry out, it’s better to give it a simpler job: to turn the pink interior to white. The idea is to cook as much of the outside of the meat as you can before putting it on the rack.

While I waited for the oven to do its duty at around 425 F, I tossed together a nice salsa of fresh mango, minced shallot, lemon juice and cilantro; a very easy side dish which is low in carbs, despite the natural sweetness. I find that when it comes to neutral-tasting meats of any kind fresh fruit adds more flavor than any marinade.

I don’t know about your extended family but, except for me, mine is non-Primal. They are fans of fat, but still very much attached to their pasta and their bread, and their cheese – oh their cheese! Still, it is characteristic of them to be quite Primal in their responses when I am cooking pork loin – or any other Primal entrée – within their sensory trajectory. It’s not like they stand up on the table and start pounding their chests or anything, but they do start in with the “mmmm” and “ahhs”. They occasionally close their eyes after taking a bite. They always linger over the food, taking their time with it, and always clean their plates. There is a very good reason for all this, as you already know: Primal food is satisfying.

Try this dinner tonight. You won’t regret it.


1 pork loin
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ medium mango (sliced and cut into chunks)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ small shallot (minced)


Preheat oven to 425 F. Rinse your pork loin and trim any fat to make the surface of the loin smooth for rubbing. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and the cocoa. Then use your hands to rub the mixture evenly over the pork.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Brown the tenderloin in the skillet on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Being careful not to lose the juices, transfer the pork loin to a Pyrex pan and slide into the oven. Cook for 12-15 more minutes. Check the loin after that time period by cutting into it. If still pink, cook a few minutes longer.

In a small bowl, lightly mix mango, cilantro, shallot and lemon juice. Serve with slices of pork.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Oh my, mango salsa is magnificent! My mom enjoys making it, although we’ve never had it with pork loin before…

    Thank you Mark!!

    Hannah wrote on August 15th, 2009
    • YUMMY – that salsa would also be great with chicken or fish. im heading to the grocery store now. thanks!

      Jeff Sherman wrote on August 15th, 2009
  2. This looks amazing! I’m going to be giving a try next week!!! Thanks as always for the wonderful easy recipes!

    Luvbirds wrote on August 15th, 2009
  3. Pork loin is wonderful. Just bought a smoked version from my butcher this morning.

    jalense wrote on August 15th, 2009
  4. My wife makes a mean mango salsa. This looks great!

    Karl T wrote on August 15th, 2009
  5. Yum! I think I will modify this for the slow cooker!

    PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess wrote on August 15th, 2009
  6. Excellent! Other than the pork itself I have all of those ingredients. That may just be on my table tomorrow! Yum yum..

    James17 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  7. I have never been so excited for supper as early as breakfast. Gotta love the taste combo of meat with fruit (i.e. Turkey and Cranberries).

    thebkon wrote on August 15th, 2009
  8. Nom nom nom nom!

    BAM, another great looking recipe!

    clayberg wrote on August 15th, 2009
  9. I’ve totally been converted to pork loin…it’s a fabulous source of protein that’s really easy to prepare – a great option for any night and also for company because it looks impressive.

    Lisa Zawrotny wrote on August 15th, 2009
  10. Looks so very delish! Yum!

    Kate wrote on August 15th, 2009
  11. The switcheroo is one of the best meat cooking methods I have ever used. Try it with different cuts and meat. I love it with lamb racks.

    Swiss-Chick wrote on August 15th, 2009
  12. This’ll certainly be tonight’s chow!
    Other options to keep pork loin moist that I like include brining, usually with salt, garlic, sage, pepper, and juniper berries…and plopping it in the center of a pate. mmmmmm pork!

    Brian Robertson wrote on August 15th, 2009
  13. I love mangoes!

    amandamarie wrote on August 15th, 2009
  14. Pork loin, mango, the summer. Perfect primal lunch!!!

    hugo rivera wrote on August 15th, 2009
  15. I can’t say I’m all that big on pork, but mangos? Yum! Will put that on my list, for sure.

    Adam Kayce wrote on August 15th, 2009
  16. Mmmm. Now if I can figure out how to cook THIS on a hot rock!

    bobolajos wrote on August 15th, 2009
  17. Oh, looks yummy! I can’t do mangoes (I’m allergic to the whole cashew family), but perhaps peaches would sub nicely here. Thanks for the recipe!

    nessa wrote on August 15th, 2009
  18. Looks pretty good! I picked up a PERFECT way to cook pork loin if you have some time from Protein Power, Dr. Eades’ book. Preheat the oven to 500, put the pork in, roast for 10 minutes and flip over, close the oven and shut it off for at least 4 hours. Works great if you’re making dinner in the morning. You just need a 1/4 cup of liquid (broth, water, etc.) to keep the pork from burning for 10 minutes. Also works great on beef tenderloin, but skip the roasting. Preheat the oven, put the beef in, and shut it off for 4 hours. A perfect rare/medium rare is the result!

    Oh yeah, I want a free T-shirt!

    Nick wrote on August 15th, 2009
  19. looks delicious. me want a shirt

    BigBeck89 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  20. Never thought of using cocoa in a rub before… I’ll have to try it.

    David C wrote on August 15th, 2009
  21. That looks GREAT! I LOVE mango. I haven’t eaten pork in awhile just because I got tired of how bland it was when I cooked it. I’ll definitely give this a try. And again for the record…I love mango! =)

    Chris H. wrote on August 15th, 2009
  22. Pork and Mango. What could be better?!

    Andrew wrote on August 15th, 2009
  23. Mango is the greatest thing ever! wow totally excited to try this out.

    Jeffrey Strickland wrote on August 15th, 2009
  24. This looks yummy. I think it will be supper tomorrow.

    Matt H wrote on August 15th, 2009
  25. The pork loin might be a little to complex for a dorm kitchen, but I’m looking forward to the salsa!

    Eve wrote on August 15th, 2009
  26. Simpler than my mango salsa recipe. I will try tomorrow with smoked pork chops.

    Jeff wrote on August 15th, 2009
  27. Mango Salsa?? Definitely gonna have to try this one…

    Ben wrote on August 15th, 2009
  28. that sounds amazing; and I love that the salsa recipe has no sugar in it. This is going on the menu. How many worker bees are in that hive to produce so much good content each day!! thanks…

    Penny wrote on August 15th, 2009
  29. Man, that looks like it is just going to have so much flavor. Must add to the to-make list.

    Andy wrote on August 15th, 2009
  30. Looks and sounds delish as always!

    Murray Birch wrote on August 15th, 2009
  31. Oh nose!! Pork!! We’ll all get fat!!

    Bianca wrote on August 15th, 2009
  32. Fruit salsas are not my favorite, but this looks great. I think I will slow cook my pork on my pellet smoker.

    Jeremy wrote on August 15th, 2009
  33. Yummy! Can’t wait to make it.

    rdsvs2010 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  34. I love pork loin, will have to try this recipe.

    juno61 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  35. Yay, pork loin is on sale this week!

    Jenny wrote on August 15th, 2009
  36. Oh man, this looks delicious! I have had a similar garnish of mango on fish and it was super yummy. I’m sure it will be very tasty on the pork. I will definitely be trying this!

    Jessica wrote on August 15th, 2009
  37. Great idea for pork loin – will stash that one away for future reference.

    One of my favorite ways to *do* a loin is to brown it all over in a hot skillet, then plunk it into the slow cooker, cover with sliced apple and cabbage “ribbons”, sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar & a teaspoon of caraway seed & let it cook the rest of the day on low heat. No need to add liquid – this makes its own & is nice to reduce to use as a sauce for the meat when serving.

    T-shirt size: small, thank you. :)

    Mary wrote on August 15th, 2009
  38. You can also pound the daylights out of the pork loin (flatten it) and then spread the fruit of your choice (I like cherries & nectarines & rosemary & spinach) on top. Roll it up like a pastry and tie it with butcher’s twine. Then cook as above. It’s more work, but quite a treat. You can experiment with all kinds of fillings.

    Jeffrey K wrote on August 15th, 2009
  39. This does look tasty. I’ll have to get ahold of some mangoes.

    GeriMorgan wrote on August 15th, 2009
  40. Beer can chicken tonight, pork loin tomorrow. I’m a happy man.

    Matt M wrote on August 15th, 2009

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