The flavors in the crust are very subtle. The instructions are for a rare tenderloin; you can leave yours in a little longer if you like it medium.

If you like a little heat, add a touch more ground cayenne to the rub.

  • 2 Tbs. cacao nibs (substitute 1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder if you can’t find nibs)
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. raw honey
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2-lb. venison (or pork) loin or tenderloin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line the inside of a baking pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the cacao nibs and fennel seeds until coarse. Place in a small bowl, and add remaining ingredients through cayenne pepper. Stir well.

Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with the honey. Then sprinkle on and pat on the cacao nib mixture.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and cook, turning it over to ensure even browning on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 120 degrees, about 15 minutes. Remove the tenderloin and wrap it in foil, letting it sit for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Adapted from NPR’s Kitchen Window