One cut of meat I turn to for a fast, tasty and satisfying dinner is pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is versatile and quick cooking. It can be seared, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or cut into medallions. Pork tenderloin can be prepared elegantly enough for a company dinner or simply enough for a family dinner. Here, I serve it with a sauce made of maple syrup and the famed French liqueur, Grand Marnier.
Lean Protein – Pork Tenderloin
If you’re concerned about eating healthy and keeping fat content low, pork tenderloin is a great choice. It’s got about the same fat content as a boneless, skinless chicken breast. The “other white meat” website notes that today’s common cuts of pork are 16% leaner and have 27% less saturated fat as compared to 1991.
Good pork tenderloins will weigh between 3/4 of a pound and about 1 1/2 pounds. You can find larger ones in the warehouse stores, but they are not the best choice in my opinion. It’s worth seeking out a butcher or better grocery store meat counter that offers the smaller tenderloins. Sometimes I can find organic pork tenderloin at Whole Foods and its the best.
For quantity figure about 6-8 ounces per person in terms of raw weight. You’ll often find two tenderloins packaged together. This works well if you are cooking for four people or enjoy leftovers. Thinly sliced pork tenderloin makes a great sandwich the next day.
Get Ready to Roast – Prep Work
In terms of cooking technique, I coat the tenderloin with salt, pepper and Penzeys granulated garlic, rub with a little olive oil, sear in a hot sauté pan, then finish in a 425 oven for 6-8 minutes or until it reaches 140-145 degrees. Test the internal temperature with a digital thermometer (like a Thermapen). The temperature will rise a few more degrees after the meat is pulled from the oven as it is resting. That’s all it takes. Easy and fast. If you cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil, you don’t even have to wash the pan.
Trim the Silverskin
To prepare the pork tenderloin for cooking trim the” silverskin” with a very sharp knife. This silvery-white tendon that sort of looks like packaging tape is tough connective tissue. Because it doesn’t melt away during cooking it must be removed as it will cause your meat to curl up, and it’s not pleasant to eat.
If you are ordering ahead of time in any quantity for a larger party, ask the butcher to do this for you. Their skill and labor saves you time in the kitchen.
To trim the silverskin yourself, hold your knife flat against the meat and starting at the end of the tenderloin, place the knife tip under the silverskin and free a bit of it from the meat. This will give you a piece to hold on to. Then still holding your knife flat, slice under the silverskin angling your knife blade up and trim the silverskin away. This is harder to describe than do!
The original inspiration for this sauce came from an Eating Well magazine recipe. You can use regular cognac or brandy if that’s what you have on hand, but the orange flavor of the Grand Marnier is very nice. Dry sherry works too.
Apple cider vinegar is listed here as it’s what most people have in their pantry. I like to use Cuisine Perels Spiced Pecan Vinegar. It also makes terrific vinaigrettes. It’s hard to find in stores but can be ordered online from Cuisine Perel. If you order it be sure to look at all of the other terrific flavored vinegars they offer and get a couple to play with.
Other links you might enjoy
More information on pork tenderloin at Pork Be Inspired
The best digital thermometer around, Thermapen by Thermoworks.
Another great source for incredible gourmet vinegars is from Vom Fass or Crescendo stores. Their Star Apple or Apple Balsamic are fantastic. Call the store in Fort Collin, Colorado, to order. (970) 232-9155. Tell Dustin and Lesli I sent you!
The original inspiration for this sauce came from Eating Well magazine. You can use regular cognac or brandy if that’s what you have on hand, but the orange flavor of the Grand Marnier is very nice. Dry sherry works too. Apple cider vinegar is listed here as it’s what most people have in their pantry. I like to use Cuisine Perels Spiced Pecan Vinegar. It also makes terrific vinaigrettes. It’s hard to find in stores but can be ordered online. If you order it be sure to look at all of the other terrific flavored vinegars they offer and get a couple to play with.
- 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) real maple syrup, (grade B for deeper flavor)
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons spiced pecan or cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or Tamari
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (brandy or cognac will work)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated garlic as needed
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil glaze
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (218 C). Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. If you are doing one or two tenderloins quarter sheet trays work great.
- In a small bowl whisk together the maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce and Grand Marnier. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the pork tenderloin with kosher salt, pepper and granulated garlic on all sides. Sprinkle on rosemary if using. Rub with a little olive oil or grapeseed oil.
- Heat a sauté pan or fry pan over med-high heat. Sear the tenderloin on all sides until golden brown. Remove the tenderloin from the pan and place on the baking sheet. Place in the oven to roast. Depending on the size they will take about 6-8 minutes to reach 145 degrees (62 C). Test with a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven and rest for about 15 minutes for juices to redistribute.
- While the tenderloin is roasting make the sauce. Pour the sauce mixture into the hot pan used to sear the pork. Cook over med-low heat whisking until incorporated, bubbly and thickened. This will take just a few minutes. Keep sauce warm. If a smooth sauce is desired, strain through a small fine mesh strainer to remove any bits of pork or rosemary.
- Cut pork tenderloin into slices and serve with warm sauce.