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Pork Tenderloin with Mole Rapido

Since pork tenderloin is so quick and simple to grill, finding a sauce that will elevate it to greatness is a challenge. Mole Rapido, the doctored-up sauce of dark and spicy mole poblano from a jar, is just the ticket.

2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder (we used regular chili powder)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper
About 1 1/3 cups Mole Rapido (recipe follows)
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Light a direct-heat charcoal fire and let it burn down to medium-hot (5 seconds to "ouch") or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Position rack about 6 inches above the heat source.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix chipotle powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the chipotle mixture evenly over the tenderloins, using it all and patting it firmly into the meat to encourage it to adhere. (We used only the salt and pepper.)

When the grill is ready, lightly oil the rack. Lay the tenderloins on the rack, cover, and grill, turning every 4 or 5 minutes, until the meat is well marked by the grill and done to your liking, about 18 minutes total for juicy, slightly pink pork. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat should read 140 to 150 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the mole just to a simmer.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Let it rest for a few minutes.

Carve the tenderloins across the grain and at a slight angle to the board into thin slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the slices on plates. Drizzle generously with the sauce, sprinkle the sesame seeds over all (we left this out), and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Mole Rapido

Mole poblano, one of the greatest Mexican sauces, frequently requires the efforts of all the cooks (read: women) in the village during several painstaking days, utilizing something like 26 ingredients. Mole from a jar is naturally a convenience, not a culinary triumph, but for that essential chile-chocolaty flavor, doctored mole "rapido" is more than acceptable.

4 Italian plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium canned chicken broth
1 8 1/4-ounce jar prepared mole (purchased at Reyna Foods)
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter (any supermarket brand)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Position the rack about 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler. In a shallow metal pan, like a cake tin, broil the tomatoes, turning once, until the peels are charred and the tomatoes are soft, about 14 minutes total. Cool.

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, broth, mole, sugar, peanut butter and salt. Process, stopping several times to scrape down the work bowl, until fairly smooth.

Transfer to a small, heavy saucepan and set over low heat. Bring just to a simmer, stirring often.

Use immediately or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Rewarm over low heat, thinning with additional broth as needed, before using. Makes 3 cups.

Adapted from "Southwestern Grill: 200 Terrific Recipes for Big and Bold Backyard Barbecue" by Michael McLaughlin

Sunday, July 16, 2000

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