Smoky Dry Mole-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Smoke-grilling brings out the complexity of this exotic spice blend.

Here is a simplified dry version of mole (MOH-lay) sauce, the traditional Mexican sauce made with nuts, chiles and chocolate. You'll have enough spice mixture for a couple of meals; store extra in an airtight container. To keep the pork moist, it is seared over the hot coals to "cook" the spice mixture, then finished (indirectly) on the opposite side of the grill. Grill fresh pineapple alongside the pork. Don't have a grill? Cook on a grill-pan over medium heat about 15 minutes.

28 min Prep: 12 min Cook: 16 min
Serves: 4 Save

Ingredients (11)

  • 1 cup hardwood chips
  • 2 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) pork tenderloin


  1. Soak hardwood chips in a bowl of water.
  2. Toast cumin, fennel and mustard seeds in a dry cast-iron skillet until they begin to smoke, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine seeds and remaining ingredients (except pork), in a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or food processor. Grind to a powder.
  4. Coat pork with spice mixture. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Prepare charcoal grill. When coals have turned amber and become ashy on the outside, push them to one side. Remove hardwood chips from water and pile them on top of coals. Position grate on grill and heat until chips begin to smoke, about 10 minutes.
  6. Sear tenderloin over coals on each side 3 minutes, then move to the side of grill with no coals, cover grill, and cook 5 to 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

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