10.18.2010

Pork Tenderloin

I eat pork. I am a Jew. I'm a Jew who eats pork. It is said it is done (medium rare).

The only period of my life I didn't eat pork was for a few years in high school. After dissecting a pig in sophomore biology, a girlfriend and I went MIA around all animal flesh. We blamed the stench of the pig for turning us off from meat of any kind (aside from hot dogs at Wrigley Field). Nevermind the aroma was formaldehyde. Wasted years. I eventually caved when I was a counselor at an overnight camp and hamburgers were the only choice on the menu during a camping trip dinner. I've been catching up ever since.

Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? Pork tenderloin. When cooked to perfection all is right with the world. I have conducted extensive Google research on how cook this one just right. Took some digging, excavation, tenacity, and patience. You know, like finding the lost ark.

Recipe

I always make two pork tenderloins at once, because my boys eat meat like boys eat meat, like animals. We are also leftover junkies; my husband would rather snack on a hunk of meat than a bowl of chips. Wouldn't you?

I buy mine at Whole Foods because the sliver skin (Google it) is already removed. At Paulina Meat Market ask them to do this for you. If you buy at TJ's, you're on your own, so add at 5-10 minutes to your prep time.

Here's a marinade if you're a planner. For "I bought this meat ten minutes ago and would like to eat today" folks, take two pork tenderloins, any size, lay them on a cookie sheet or plate, and rub on (with your hands, yes!):
  • Olive oil to coat well, about* one tablespoon per loin, nice and greasy.

Sprinkle all over, for each loin:
  • About 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • About 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • About 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, if fresh use more, maybe 1/2 teaspoon

Let sit at least ten minutes at room temperature*.

Now for the cooking. Several ways to go here, this is my fave, and will take you, from grate to plate to eat, about 30 minutes. I gave up on meat thermometers which many recipes suggest using so you can confirm meat temp is a "safe" 150 degrees. They never worked for me. What did work was making this a few times to get the hang of it. But once I did, all was right with the world.

No grill? Try same technique in oven (400 degrees) or broiler (on low, if an option).
  1. Preheat grill to about 400.
  2. Take a few paper towels and fold them together. Saturate with any type of cooking oil. Glove up (oven mits) and grease grates quickly*. Place meat on grill.
  3. Close lid. Look at temp gauge. If heat is not swiftly rising back to 350-400, turn up the heat! When it reaches desired temp, turn heat back to where you had it before to stabilize temperature*.
  4. After 5 minutes, rotate meat slightly, either direction. (The goal is to treat the loin like it has 3 or 4 sides.)
  5. Repeat step 3. Then four. Repeat until all sides have cooked for about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove to a plate and cover with foil. Let sit at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Slice into 1 inch pieces. Cut the short way, against grain (the lines in the meat).

**Extra! Extra!**
  • Ah, yes, the overused "about" chimed by every Food Network pro. Right along with "to taste." For those needing "exactly" in lieu of "about," wish granted. Experienced souls, salt and pepper and thyme away! No one needs to know how much but you.
  • No, meat will not salmonella, I promise.
  • Move like lightening so paper towels don't ignite, or get the extinguisher ready.
  • I use the indirect heat method, ala Weber Grill Instruction Manual: turn off middle flame and set other burners to medium. This works for my grill, though often I turn on the middle burner to achieve the right temperature. Every grill is so different, learn yours and your meat will rock. See Grilling the Gamble for more on this.

Pork Tenderloin Marinade

I found this recipe somewhere in the land of Google (maybe Cooks.com) and changed it a bit.

Whisk together in a bowl:
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots*
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger*

Place a one-pound pork tenderloin in Ziploc. Marinate at least two hours or overnight. Double recipe for two loins.

Follow these cooking instructions (see "Now for the Cooking," past the seasoning instructions).

**Extra! Extra!**
  • Shallots? Yeah, me too. Probably next to the garlic, above the potatoes and onions, in an itty bitty basket. Or ask the produce guy.
  • Fresh ginger is in the produce section, usually in that special place reserved for "things only chefs know what do do with." Again, ask the guy.
  • Here's how to deal with ginger: with a veggie peeler, peel off brown skin until you get to the flesh, then peel a few slices and mince it up. Lazy? No problem, get the jarred version (in Asian section) and chop it up. Keeps fresh in your fridge for, dare I say, years?