Summer is all about being outside, isn’t it? Maybe this is especially true for those of us who live in places where the winter can be so tough. Around here, as soon as the thermometer starts edging into the 50s, people are out of their houses. Our new house has a deck out back, and we’ve been spending a lot of time out there. Which of course means a lot of grilling–because who wants to go inside and slave over the stove when you can look at the river and watch deer wander by while you cook instead?
There is one thing about summer that I look forward to that doesn’t have anything to do with the great outdoors–the return of the TV show Master Chef. We don’t have cable or satellite TV, so the only cooking shows I can regularly see are the ones on PBS on Saturdays. While I really enjoy some of those shows, I don’t usually have time to sit and watch them in the middle of a Saturday. Master Chef comes on after the kids have gone to bed, so I can just relax and enjoy the cooking without being interrupted.
One of my favorite parts of Master Chef is the “mystery box challenge.” If you haven’t seen the show before, let me describe it for you–the competitors are given a box of ingredients that they must turn into a “stunning dish” (as Gordon Ramsay says) in 60 minutes. They don’t have to use everything in the box, but they can’t use stuff that isn’t in the box. Now, doesn’t this remind you of trying to make dinner out of whatever you have in your fridge? It’s like the refrigerator is your mystery box, and since you have hungry kids to feed and no time to run to the store, you better create something “stunning” out of what you have–and fast.
This recipe is something I created out of stuff I had laying around one day, and it ended up being so good that I thought I’d share it with you. My parents love champagne mangos and had one that was about to be ripe when they were leaving on vacation. Not wanting to see it wasted, they gave it to me when I drove them to the airport. I had bought an avocado and some tomatoes thinking I was going to make guacamole, but the addition of the mango to my “mystery box” made me reconsider. Everything else in the recipe is stuff that I usually have on hand (even the pork tenderloin, it is something I cook quite regularly). So, do you think this dish is a “mystery box” challenge winner? Channel your inner Gordon Ramsay and let me know for yourself.
Pork Tacos with Avocado-Mango Salsa
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- 1 champagne mango
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium-sized shallot
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 small handful cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 pork tenderloin
- vegetable oil (for oiling the grill)
- flour tortillas, warmed
- Remove the pit from the avocado and cut into small chunks in a bowl. Juice the lime and pour it over the avocado. Cut the mango into small chunks and add it to the bowl (if you’d like to see a tutorial on how to do this, click here). Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters (or eighths if they are big) and add it to the avocado & mango. Mince the shallot and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, olive oil and cilantro over the salsa and season with black pepper. Gently stir the salsa and set aside while you work on the pork.
- Turn the grill on to high. While it is heating up, sprinkle the pork tenderloin with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, light brown sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Rub this mixture all over the pork tenderloin.
- Brush the grill grates clean. Fold a paper towel up into a small square and dip it in some vegetable oil. Use a pair of tongs to wipe the oiled towel across the grill grates. Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides. Turn your grill down to medium-low and continue to cook the meat until it reads 160 degrees F in the thickest section. Remove the pork from the grill and let rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes. Cut into small strips.
- Serve the pork strips with the warmed tortillas and avocado-mango salsa.
Serves 2, generously (we had enough for 2 adults plus 2 small kids)
Time: 45 minutes
Notes: If you want to serve this to 4 adults, buy a second pork tenderloin and double up the spice rub. You don’t need to double the quantity of the salsa. If you are only serving 2 adults you will probably have salsa leftover–it is good as a dip for tortilla chips or spooned over chopped lettuce for a light lunch.