Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Triple-Threat Pork Tenderloin

Now, hear me out. I've said in the past that I am not the biggest fan of pork products (outside of the context of bacon, of course), but I am starting to see the light.

I made pulled pork for Jim and Paul one night, and I bought too much tenderloin (Paul somehow convinced me that we would need 2 lbs. of pork each). I stuck one in the freezer with the intention of giving it away, since I never planned to use it.

Given the recent economy and my continuing education, I've been making strides to be a savvy spender. Last week I realized that I had the tenderloin in my freezer, and it didn't make any sense to go out and buy something else for dinner. I had vague memories of my mom buying tenderloin that had been roasted and encrusted in herbs, and that got my wheels turning. The end result was a juicy, tender, lean, savory tenderloin with BIG flavor. It is elegant and impressive.

I have been converted. Pork-done-right is great.

Triple-Threat Pork Tenderloin

First marinate the tenderloin for 30-minutes to 1-hour using the following:

Triple-Threat Marinade:
2 cloves Garlic
5 sprigs Fresh Thyme (or 1 tblsp. dry)
2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary (or 2 tsp. dry)
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1) Combine above ingredients in a food processor until incorporated and well chopped.
2) Marinate meat in a seal-able freezer bag.

When the pork is done marinating, remove it from the bag and dry it off using a paper-towel. Now on to Threat #2. (Preheat your oven to 400*f)

Herb Crust:
5 sprigs Fresh Thyme
3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
1 tsp Black Peppercorns + 1 tblsp Cracked Pepper
2 tsp ground Sea Salt (or table salt)
1/4 cup Olive Oil

1) With a mortar and pestle, grind together thyme, rosemary, and peppercorns. This breaks them up and releases herbaceous goodness,
2) Next, with a brush, coat the tenderloin lightly with olive oil.
3) Lightly sprinkle the pork with cracked pepper and salt.
4) With the herbs ground in the mortar and pestle, use your hands to coat the tenderloin, pressing them in so they sit closely on the meat. The oil kind of works like a glue, and is the component that's going to make the outside nice and crispy (since tenderloin is a lean cut).
*Do steps 2-4 to one side at a time.

- Set up the pork on a roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, line a cookie sheet with tin foil, and use a rack so that the pork won't be sitting directly on the pan. Lightly tent the pork with foil.

- Keeping the oven rack in the middle, place the pork in the oven and roast it for about 10 minutes, remove the foil and roast it for another 10 minutes or so (until a meat thermometer reads 150*f or juices run clear when you cut in to it). The inside shouldn't be pink or raw looking.

- Remove the foil and let it broil on high for 5 minutes to brown the crust.

- Flip the tenderloin over and broil for another 5 minutes to brown the other side.

- Remove from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

This pork is so good, it might even be one of my new favorites. Jim and I finished almost the whole thing by ourselves, and I couldn't help but snack on it the next day. It isn't hard to make and it's so flavorful that there is no need to pull out any crazy tricks for the rest of the meal. I made steamed green-beans and couscous to compliment this dish. It's definitely one I'll be making again soon!

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