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. looks good!

    DThalman wrote on August 15th, 2009
  2. Ooh, I love Mango salsa or any salsa made with tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple. And I *heart* the idea of using cocoa for the pork. Yummy!

    maba wrote on August 15th, 2009
  3. looks amazing. can’t wait to try it.

    ariel wrote on August 15th, 2009
  4. Oh my, i love anything with mango, this looks so good!

    Jess wrote on August 15th, 2009
  5. Wow that looks good! Thanks for the chance to win the shirt. I’m new to the Primal family. Glad I found it.

    Jason wrote on August 15th, 2009
  6. This stuff always looks so good, too bad nobody will make it for me ;^)


    Doug Van Cleve wrote on August 15th, 2009
  7. Nom! I bet that cocoa/chilli rub is fantastic on other meat, too.

    grainfreegirl wrote on August 15th, 2009
  8. oh yummy that looks great. I love pork but tend to forget about it and get into meat ruts! but this looks great

    gertiep10 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  9. I can’t wait to get back to hawaii where there is a Mango tree down the street from where I live.

    Luke wrote on August 15th, 2009
  10. I eat loads of pork but never tried with mango, guess ill have to now =)

    Magnus wrote on August 15th, 2009
  11. A truly yummy combo

    Liteman wrote on August 15th, 2009
  12. i love it!

    micha wrote on August 15th, 2009
  13. I’ve never cooked pork loin before. Photos look tasty.

    Wade Smith wrote on August 15th, 2009
  14. My timing is horrible. We made a pork loin in the slow cooker last night. This would have been excellent. Fortunately we are getting a whole pig on Labor day! Keep the great pork recipes coming cause we’re gonna need em!

    Alex wrote on August 15th, 2009
  15. Yum! Loving the mango salsa, I just made a bit for some swordfish, never for pork.

    Thanks Mark! I’m in Costa Rica trying all the wonderful fruit, so this is perfect timing!


    BEE wrote on August 15th, 2009
  16. Will definitely be making this one next week!!

    Primaleater wrote on August 15th, 2009
  17. I love pork loins. It’s the most versatile meet to cook with IMO. You can season it with just about anything.

    Ted wrote on August 15th, 2009
  18. <— shamelessly commenting purely for the BA tshirt

    bigdamhero wrote on August 15th, 2009
  19. Yum yum gimme some!

    Chris wrote on August 15th, 2009
  20. I think I’ll try doing the pork up on the grill, indirect heat for about a half hour. No need to heat up the house in the summer. I’ve never made mango salsa but this looks pretty simple. Looking forward to it.

    Joe B wrote on August 15th, 2009
  21. It’s impossible to go wrong with mango salsa. :)

    BarbeyGirl wrote on August 15th, 2009
  22. Another succulent recipe that I’ll have to try. Today I’m making your crab cakes, but the pork and mango should make it onto our table this week.

    Agnieszka wrote on August 15th, 2009
  23. Wow. That looks good. I’m going to try that this weekend.

    Those shirts are awesome too!! crossing my fingers for a win now.

    Clint White wrote on August 15th, 2009
  24. Can’t eat mango anymore, but I love the cocoa/chili combination on the pork. I will be sure to try it.

    Also, the shirt looks awesome. ^_~

    Gwennie wrote on August 15th, 2009
  25. This looks really good, usually don’t like pork loin cause it does end up so dry but I’m excited about this.

    john fitzgibbon wrote on August 15th, 2009
  26. Mmmmmm. Looks really good. Must try it. :)

    Patty wrote on August 15th, 2009
  27. Excuse my pessimism but lean meat is always lean meat, the only cooking method to get some artificial juiciness is slow cooking. Enough time at about 160F will turn the collagen into gelatin, although in absolute terms the meat only gets drier. The perception of juiciness doesn’t solely come from, well juiciness.

    This is why i don’t like lean cuts that much, it just takes too long time to make them delicious.

    Sure if you feel that cooking method turns them enough juicy be happy. I’m just really nitpicky when it comes to meat juiciness.

    as wrote on August 15th, 2009
  28. Add a little mint to the mango salsa too – for added yumminess! And the cacao powder in the rub – what a wonderful idea! Yup, this is going on the table as soon as I can find some pork…

    sofiawahaj wrote on August 15th, 2009
  29. Well, I will DEFINITELY have to try this one next week. Thanks for all the great recipes–we made the tomato sauce over spaghetti squash from mda last night….so good:)

    toothdr wrote on August 15th, 2009
  30. Looks amazing to eat!

    Kendall Kimball wrote on August 15th, 2009
  31. that looks soo awesome..

    John Park wrote on August 15th, 2009
  32. Looks great. Definitely going to have to make it.

    Aim12 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  33. love the t-shirt, great idea!

    Ryan P wrote on August 15th, 2009
  34. That looks so pretty! Bravo on the photos.

    FlyNavyWife wrote on August 15th, 2009
  35. Okay, now I have incentive to make mango salsa…

    YoungFogey wrote on August 15th, 2009
  36. looks very good, cant wait to try this one!

    joshua76 wrote on August 15th, 2009
  37. Recently I have been making salsa’s with pretty much any fruit. Tried a apple salsa this morning with:

    -Chopped up apple
    -Shredded carrots
    -Chopped up Tomatoes
    -Loads of Lemon and Lime
    -Olive oil

    Was pretty good but doesn’t beat the mango salsa by the looks of things….

    Chris - ZTF wrote on August 15th, 2009
  38. I’m just getting ready to order a pig to share with neighbors, so I will have to keep this recipe handy! Thanks!

    Rodney wrote on August 15th, 2009
  39. Thanks for the recipe. Looks awesome !!!

    Serge wrote on August 15th, 2009
  40. I should try this with the wild boar I have in the freezer.

    umuhk wrote on August 15th, 2009

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