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. Won’t be winning any shirt today, but will definitely be making this one tonight!

    jtkeith wrote on August 16th, 2009
  2. mmmm, thats going to be made at the fire house tonight for swill!

    Chuck Olson wrote on August 16th, 2009
  3. Tasty!

    huey wrote on August 16th, 2009
  4. I’ll be making this tomorrow night. Bird for tonight. I had a pork loin a few days ago, and have two in the freezer.

    The rub sounds like a great addition.

    Grok wrote on August 16th, 2009
  5. This sounds great!

    Christian Chun wrote on August 16th, 2009
  6. Just returned from Cabo where I had the BEST mangos in the world…on a stick with lime and chili powder. Delicious!

    Kelly wrote on August 16th, 2009
  7. We made this for dinner tonight and it was a big hit. Served it with roasted acorn squash (mashed with a bit of fresh sage, cayenne, butter, and grated ginger.) Thanks for the terrific recipe, Mark.

    As there’s not a scrap of pork leftover tonight, we’ll be using the leftover Salsa on tomorrow night’s chicken.

    Pebbles wrote on August 16th, 2009
  8. yum.

    Andrew Bueno wrote on August 16th, 2009
  9. I make Pork Tenderloin once a week! MY FAVOURITE meat!

    Patricia wrote on August 17th, 2009
  10. That looks really tasty. Thanks for the recipe.

    Vanessa wrote on August 17th, 2009
  11. cool recipe, cool shirt!

    JB wrote on August 17th, 2009
  12. yum! Can’t wait to try this! Keep the great recipes coming!

    Amber wrote on August 17th, 2009
  13. Just stumbled on the website today, pork loin and mango salsa, that sounds delicious. Will have to give that a try this week. Another great website to watch, thanks 😉

    Sean wrote on August 17th, 2009
  14. Got a chance to try this last night – wow! The loin was indeed as juicy as Mark indicated, although I had to cook it longer than the 15 mins to get it to the right temp. The chili / cocoa rub was a hit, even with the non-Primal kids. They weren’t as fond of the mango salsa, but that’s ok – we adults loved it.

    Eric wrote on August 24th, 2009
  15. i’m not terribly fond of pork…however i now have a few of them in my freezer!

    we also tried this rub on grilled chicken the other night. the rub benefits there by a little bit of olive oil since the chicken is a bit drier.

    again…really tasty!

    dianea wrote on August 31st, 2009
  16. This was really delicious. I added some pineapple and pomegranate to the salsa and swapped out shallots for onions.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Culinspiration wrote on March 2nd, 2010

    I left the loin in the pan after browning and threw the whole thing in the oven. ‘Lil easier and fewer dishes at the end. Then I threw the salsa ingredients into the food processor to make a little smoother, and added those to the fond and juices left in the bottom of the pan after removing the finished loin. Scrape those into the sauce they’re LOADED with great flavor!! Finally I reduced the whole thing with some homemade chicken broth and a little butter for an amazingly succulent brown sauce!!! MONEY!!!

    Boru wrote on April 25th, 2010
  18. Pork loin normally is void of any specific tastyness unless you marinade or add something. Your Mango addition creates a great Grokified flavoring that will be a staple in this cave. Thanks

    Al Sanchez wrote on September 8th, 2010
  19. MMMM.You know, I bet you could also filet the loin and get a neat swirl pattern on the inside. OOOH! Lovely.

    Grok ON!

    vicky wrote on September 30th, 2010
  20. I love that you aren’t afraid of using fruit as a vegetable!!!!

    I’m finding so many recipes here for my husband and I (Who are both really generally healthy – we better be I’m a damn dietitian!)

    I love the new recipes with food I really enjoy!

    Kathleen wrote on May 14th, 2011
  21. This turned out great! I did the cocoa with ancho chilli powder as a coating. Then put a bit of the mango on top while it cooked. Took it out when it hit 160 degrees and let it rest. Mixed the mango with a bit of basil( didnt have any cilantro) and lime juice and a touch of pepper and put it on top with a little bit of the juices from the pan. Soo yummy.

    erin wrote on July 18th, 2011
  22. Mark,

    It looks delicious, but unless I can get to the Farmer’s market and get grass fed pork I won’t buy any meat from the stupidmarket unless is has a bone in it since you wrote about the meat glue. It just sticks in my throat since I watched that video. When I see the meat prepackaged now in the round bags, all I can think of is meat glue. Yuck.

    martha wrote on July 30th, 2011
  23. What would be a good sub for the cilantro. Not a fan of it but the rest of the Ingredients sound amazing.

    George Rogers wrote on January 18th, 2012
    • Try basil.

      Jodi wrote on May 14th, 2013
  24. Can’t agree more with this article totally usefull information and straight to the point, congrats to the author

    Edwin Ianuzzi wrote on February 15th, 2012
  25. In a word, WOW. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant (Cocoa and chili powder together? And on pork?), but I am so glad I tried this! My boys (read: teenagers whose mission it is to drive me insane by complaining about some part of dinner daily) devoured this and asked that it be added to dinner rotation. My only addition would be to add shredded purple cabbage to the salsa. :) Thanks again!

    Jodi wrote on May 14th, 2013
  26. Cooked in preheated oven as directed for 20min due to family refusing pink pork. Came out bloody so popped in secondary oven that was preheating at 450 for different dish. Removed after 12 min for a slightly pink center. Any assist as to why is welcome. The seared rub is delicious. I marginated roast with paste of mashed garlic, lemon juice, coriander and olive oil for about 6 hours prior to cooking (wiped off before rub and searing). Did not serve with mango but made a gravy with bone broth/shallot/salt/pepper/marsala wine. Big hit.

    Fallon wrote on December 25th, 2015

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