Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Quick, Inexpensive, And Full-Flavored
- Servings: 2 to 3.
For pork eaters, the tenderloin is a perfect city cook cut of meat. It's easy to find in most meat departments and butcher shops, it's inexpensive, low fat, and it's small, making it ideal for small households. It's also easy and quick to cook, making it a good choice for weeknight dinners.
The tenderloin is from the part of the animal that is below the ribs and when butchered with the adjacent bone, is sold as a loin pork chop. A boneless fillet, the tenderloin is only about 12 to 14 ounces each. At about 8-inches long and 2-inches wide, and tapered at one end, one usually serves 2 to 3 persons. The meat is tender, lean, mild in flavor, with about the same amount of fat as a boneless, skinless chicken breast. The fillet can be cut into thick medallions to be sautéed or grilled, but cooked whole, it makes a perfect centerpiece for a weekday meal.
Because this piece of meat is small and low in fat, it can be easily overcooked, making it dry and flavorless. But with just a little care, a pork tenderloin can become a frequent go-to dinner choice.
Pork tenderloin is far less expensive than most cuts of premium pork, with a price that's often about $8.00 a pound. Most tenderloins are about 1-pound each and are sometimes sold two to a package in plastic vacuum packs. They can be perishable so buy only a day or two before cooking or else freeze it until you're ready to cook.
This recipe serves 2 or 3 persons, but for more servings, just increase the number of tenderloins and you can cook them all at the same time.
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
- Rub ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper (a mild, smoky pepper) and 1 tablespoon sea salt -- OR
- 2 cloves garlic put through a garlic press mixed with 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- OR
- 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- OR
- 1 teaspoon of any other favorite savory spice plus salt and pepper
- If the butcher didn't do it for you, use a sharp knife to remove the silver skin.
- Season the pork tenderloin by rubbing it with a combination of spices or other aromatics, plus salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F and place the rack in the center of the oven.
- In an oven-proof sauté pan or skillet (do not use non-stick), add 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil and place over a medium high heat until the oil shimmers but doesn't smoke.
- Place the seasoned whole tenderloin in the pan and brown on all sides. This will take about 6 minutes. Don't rush it.
- When fully browned, put the pan directly into the hot oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Using an instant meat thermometer, check the tenderloin's internal temperature by placing the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Your target is an internal temperature of 140º F. This will result in medium rare, or slightly pink meat.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice into one-inch thick slices and serve.
Because tenderloins are tapered at one end, this can result in one end of the piece being more well done than the rest. This is another reason to be careful to not overcook the entire piece.
Pork tenderloins also respond well to marinades but don't marinade for more than two hours in advance of cooking because the meat is fragile and can turn mushy.
Thick slices of roasted pork tenderloin can be placed on top of a green salad or alongside your favorite vegetables. Slice the meat into thin slices to be the main ingredient in a sandwich.
Tip: A simple pork tenderloin can be dressed up a bit by sautéing some sliced apples in a little butter, cooking the slices until they soften and brown a bit on the edges. Cook while the tenderloin is in the oven and serve as a side, along with roasted sweet potatoes or bitter greens.