Pork tenderloin is very lean, extremely tender, and very versatile. The most tender cut of pork, the tenderloin has no bone, and very little fat. The tenderloin is easy to work with and cooks quickly, making it ideal for home cooks and every day meal planning.
You can pick up tenderloins at your local supermarket for $4-6 each. They are usually sold in special packaging, unlike regular cuts of meat. Sold individually or in pairs, the tenderloin is wrapped in heavier plastic that is vacuum sealed around the edges. Read the label carefully as some are injected with flavoring solutions or soaked in marinades. Seek out plain, fresh tenderloin. You can buy tenderloins at most local butcher shops. Prices are often a dollar or two more per tenderloin.
Preparing a Pork Tenderloin
Keep your tenderloin in the refrigerator until just before cooking. If you are cooking your tenderloin whole, remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Raising the internal temperature of the meat 30 degrees before cooking helps ensure proper cooking in less time.
The tenderloin requires a tiny amount of preparation to be ready to use. Use your fingers to pull away any pieces of fat. It is necessary to remove the silverskin attached to the flesh at the back of the tenderloin. Use a sharp knife to remove the flat silverskin being careful to not cut away too much of the meat.
Cooking a Pork Tenderloin
Weighing in at about a pound and about a foot in length, the tenderloin can be cooked whole, or a number of other ways including cut crosswise into a dozen medallions, cut into strips or pieces for stir-frying, butterflied for stuffing, and so on. Use your imagination and visualize your favorite dishes prepared with tender, moist, and juicy pork.
Dry heat methods of preparation are ideal for this choice cut of pork, Grilling, broiling, roasting, stir-frying, and sautéing the tenderloin are all well suited for perfectly prepared pork. Whatever method you choose, avoid the temptation of overcooking the pork. The tender cut of meat will cook in mere minutes to a light pink shade and retain it tenderness and moisture.
If you are preparing a whole tenderloin, an instant read thermometer is a great tool to ensure the pork has cooked through, but not been overcooked. Look for an internal temperature around 140-145 degrees F, and pull your tenderloin from the heat. Remember the internal temperature will often rise 5 or more degrees after being removed from the heating surface. As you get practice grilling, roasting, or broiling this new cut of meat, eventually you’ll know by looking at it, poking it with your finger, or memorizing the time necessary to achieve perfection. Light pink not gray, juices that run clear. Done.
The tender cut of pork has a less intense flavor than other cuts of pork. The very mild flavor takes well to seasoning. Marinades, pastes, and spice rubs are great ways to add exceptional depth of flavor to your favorite meats and vegetables. A simple combination of ingredients can add complex layers of flavors and transform ordinary into extraordinary.
At the very least, season your tenderloin with sea or kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. For a truly remarkable dining experience, consider a spice rub. Spice rubs representing your favorite cuisines are an excellent place to start. Turn your tenderloin into a delicious Cajun, Jamaican, Thai, Szechuan, or Moroccan inspired dish in minutes by applying a mix of dried herbs and spices before cooking.
CARIBBEAN STYLE SPICE BLEND
- 2 tablespoons allspice berries
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Place allspice berries, ground cinnamon, paprika, dried thyme, light or dark brown sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, powdered ginger, crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and sea salt in spice grinder. Pulse until smooth.
- Rub spice blend over entire surface of whole trimmed pork tenderloin. Wrap tenderloin in plastic wrap and place on plate. Refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
- Grill or broil tenderloin to desired doneness.