BY LAURA LANGSTON
PORK TENDERLOIN IS sometimes overlooked
when people think about dinner, because cooks aren’t
always sure what to do with the long, lean cut. It’s a
shame, because pork tenderloin is a fabulous choice for
both quick weeknight meals and fancy weekend feasts.
Sometimes called pork tender, pork tenderloin is a
thin, boneless strip of meat typically weighing between
1 and 1½ pounds that comes from the same region of
the pig as the back ribs. It’s called tenderloin because it’s
incredibly tender and succulent.
It’s also good for you. “With less than 4 grams of
saturated fat per pound, pork tenderloin is a great
choice of lean protein,” says Lori Zanini, a registered
dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “And it’s heart
healthy as well.”
It’s also incredibly versatile and easily adapts to
multiple cooking methods. Before cooking, trim the
tenderloin to your liking. Then the whole tenderloin
can be roasted, broiled, sautéed, grilled or even cooked
in a slow cooker, Zanini’s preferred choice. She tops
her tenderloin with sliced apples, chopped onions and
a teaspoon or two of cinnamon and adds ¼ cup of
water before cooking it on low for six to eight hours.
Another option? Slice the raw tenderloin crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch medallions (as if you’re cutting
a loaf of French bread) and sauté them in a frying pan
with garlic, onion, mushrooms and fresh tarragon for
5 minutes before deglazing the pan with wine or
chicken stock. Or cube the raw meat and sauté it in a
stir-fry. For something more elegant, slice the tender-
loin lengthwise (not all the way through), spread it
open and lightly pound it before stuffing it with a
mixture of chopped fruit, nuts and herbs. Roll it back
up jelly roll style, tie with string and roast (see cook-
ing times and instructions below).
Because it has a mild taste, pork tenderloin is a
perfect canvas for many flavors. Consider marinating
it for a few hours or overnight before grilling or roasting. To a basic marinade of equal parts olive oil and
lemon juice, add your choice of herbs (tarragon and
thyme for French-inspired, rosemary and oregano for
Greek, etc.). For an Asian marinade, blend equal parts
soy sauce and rice vinegar with chopped ginger and
green onion. Stop there or flavor that basic blend with
the addition of any (or all) of the following: brown
sugar, chili sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, five-spice
powder and chopped lemongrass.
For a faster infusion of flavor, consider a rub. The
options are endless. To a blend of salt and pepper, add
your herbs or spices of choice. Using a fork, lightly
pierce the tenderloin before rubbing with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Then use your hands and lightly
rub the spices into the tenderloin until it’s evenly
coated. It’s now ready to cook.
Pork tenderloin cooks quickly. It takes 15 to 20
minutes on a medium-high grill (400 F), or 30 to 35
minutes in a 350 F oven. Stuffed tenderloin takes a
little longer, 45 to 60 minutes at 375 to 400 F.
Tenderloin should be cooked to an internal temperature between 145 and 160 F per the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, followed by a three-minute rest. If the
meat is a little pink that means the whole tenderloin is
cooked but still juicy.
Refrigerate any leftovers within an hour of serving and plan to eat them within four or five days.
For longer storage, leftovers can be frozen for up to
three months. C
Laura Langston ( lauralangston.com) is a freelance
writer living in the Pacific Northwest.
FOR YOUR TABLE
Tips for a tasty
ASIAN DRY RUB
1 tablespoon light brown
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
;⁄; teaspoon ground cloves
;⁄; teaspoon ground cayenne
2 pork tenderloins ( 1 pound
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a
medium baking pan with foil.
Stir together brown sugar, ginger,
cinnamon, salt, pepper, cloves and
cayenne pepper in small bowl.
Rub pork with mixture.
Place pork in prepared pan and
roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until
the pork’s internal temperature
reaches 145 F. Remove from oven,
cover loosely with foil and let
stand for 3 minutes. Cut into slices.
Serve with brown rice tossed with
thinly sliced scallions and fresh
chopped cilantro, steamed bok
choy or broccoli drizzled with
sesame oil. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Courtesy of the National Pork Board
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Look for pork tenderloin and a variety of pork cuts
in the meat department of your Costco warehouse.