My favorite candy growing up was the chocolate covered cherry. I didn't have them often, but when I did, it was always a special treat. The way that thin, crisp chocolate would break away to reveal the florescent red maraschino cherry suspended in the clear syrup was intoxicating.
I almost never eat them anymore; only on the rare occasion my mother, Pauline, or mother-in-law, Peggy, happen to have some out, usually around the holidays. One such occasion came on my recent trip back to Clifton Springs, NY, and as I enjoyed the sweet treat a strange thought popped into my brain. What about a savory dish that celebrated the same basic flavors?
I remembered seeing Alton Brown use cocoa in a rub for chicken, and since I had a pork tenderloin sitting in the fridge, just a shelf away from a jar of black cherry preserves, I figured, why not?
I really loved how this came out, and while it's obviously an unsweetened version of chocolate being used, the plate definitely had some of the same culinary DNA as my beloved candied cherries. Anyway, that's the odd-but-true story of how this recipe ended up here, and as usual, I hope you give it a try and tell me what you think. Enjoy!
1-2 pork tenderloins
salt as needed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
For the rub:
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
For the sauce:
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup white vinegar
big pinch of oregano