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Dirty Apron's David Robertson's south Indian-spiced pork tenderloin with lemon rice.

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David Robertson and his wife, Sara, opened the Dirty Apron cooking school in Vancouver in 2009. A deli and catering company, both under the Dirty Apron banner, soon followed. Robertson’s first cookbook, The Dirty Apron Cookbook, published in 2014, was designed to help take the cooking school to people’s homes. His followup, Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook, published earlier this year, is the culmination of his thinking about food – not just how to prepare and enjoy it, but how it unites people.

“Whether it’s gathering around the kitchen table or gathering around the campfire, I just think of food as hanging out with people and friends. It doesn’t matter what your background is, or what your religion is, we can all eat food together and enjoy a glass of wine,” Robertson says.

With that in mind, many of the dishes in the book are created to be served on large platters and shared with friends and loved ones, such as the accompanying recipe for South Indian-spiced pork tenderloin with lemon rice.

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Robertson also included a large selection of vegetarian recipes and plenty of salads because many Canadians are vegetarians and even those who aren’t seem to be slowly moving away from eating as much animal-based protein as in the past. “My dad was a butcher, so for me to get excited about salads they’ve got to be good,” he says with a small laugh.

For this dish, Robertson says home chefs shouldn’t be afraid to cook pork medium-rare for maximum juiciness. “This tenderloin dish is so flavourful, you won’t need a sauce,” he says.

South Indian-Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Lemon Rice

Ingredients (Serves 4)

South Indian rub
  • 3 tablespoons fleur de sel
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons green cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
Lemon rice
  • 2 2/3 cups cooked basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cashews
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 20 fresh curry leaves (or 10 dried curry leaves)
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, patted dry, divided into 4 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons South Indian-Spiced Rub
Assembly
  • Cilantro, for garnish

South Indian rub

In a small bowl, combine fleur de sel, brown sugar and cinnamon.

In a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cardamom.

Place in a dry frying pan and toast over medium-high heat for 1 minute, until toasted and fragrant. Turn off heat, then add turmeric and garam masala to pan and toss lightly. Set aside to cool.

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Add toasted spices to the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and toss until well combined. Transfer to airtight container and store for up to three months.

Lemon rice

In a medium bowl, combine rice, 1 tablespoon oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and toss well. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add cashews and toast lightly. Add mustard seeds and stir constantly, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Quickly add curry leaves, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes, until curry leaves are crisp. Turn off heat. Add turmeric and stir for another minute to prevent the mixture from burning.

Transfer ingredients to the bowl with rice. Gently mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.

Pork tenderloin

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Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, then generously rub with the spice rub, ensuring tenderloin is coated evenly.

Add tenderloin to the pan and sear for 30 seconds on each side, until browned. Place pan into oven and cook for 5 minutes. Flip over and roast for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 F on a meat thermometer. Set aside to rest for 3 to 4 minutes before slicing.

Assembly

Thinly slice pork and arrange over rice on individual plates. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Excerpted from Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson. Photographs by Kevin Clark. Copyright 2019 by The Dirty Apron Cooking School. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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