Coffee, Cocoa, and Guajillo Pepper Pork Loin with Brandy Cream Sauce

By Amy Traverso

Apr 17 2017


Coffee, Cocoa and Guajillo Pepper Pork Loin with Brandy Cream Sauce

Photo Credit : Elizabeth Poisson

Filming Weekends with Yankee was one peak experience after another. We visited the most beautiful places in New England, ate incredible food, and went behind the scenes to meet the talented and hard-working farmers, makers, and chefs who make this region such a wonderful place to live and eat.

One highlight: spending the day aboard the J&E Riggin, a 1927 two-masted schooner that was originally built as an oyster ship but now ferries passengers on multiday cruises around Penobscot Bay in Maine. Captains John Finger and Annie Mahle are the hosts, and Annie, a professionally trained chef, has earned the Riggin a reputation as the ultimate windjammer cruise for food lovers. During our cruise, she prepared several dishes on her cast-iron Atlantic Fisherman wood stove, including this marinated roasted pork loin and a savory-sweet salad with citrus and Manchego cheese.

In her 2016 cookbook, Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea, Annie writes of this recipe, “At first glance, coffee and cocoa might not present themselves as a savory combination. Really we should be seeing some sort of cake here, right? Nope. Combined with guajillo, fennel, cumin, and allspice, this rub becomes deep and richly flavored with hints of smoke and spice. The rub is as simple as it gets, but the flavor is high-class and decadent. Still, this recipe is quick enough for a weeknight dinner and special enough to save for entertaining on the weekend.”


6 to 8 servings


1 tablespoon espresso beans
1 whole dried guajillo pepper, stem and seeds removed and broken into 1/2-inch pieces (you can substitute dried ancho or chipotle chiles)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon demerara or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 to 3 pounds pork loin with some fat left on
3 tablespoons brandy
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch salt


Combine all ingredients except the pork, brandy, cream, and pinch of salt in a small food processor or spice grinder. Place the pork loin in a small roasting pan and rub all over with the spice mixture. Let rest for one hour (can be prepared a day ahead).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook the pork loin for 10 minutes or until the exterior begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 145 degrees when inserted into the center of the pork. Remove from roasting pan and let rest 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, move the roasting pan to the top of the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Carefully add the brandy (the high sides of the pan should keep it from flaming) and then the heavy cream, whisking to incorporate all of the little bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to thicken slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes.

When the sauce is done and the pork has rested, slice the meat thinly. Add any juices from the cutting board to the sauce in the roasting pan. Strain, test for salt, and serve with the pork immediately.