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Any such thing as roasted NON-DRY Pork Tenderloin

I fell once again for those giant packages of pork tenderloins at COSTCO. Now that I have defrosted one...er...two, I wonder if there's any way to bbq or roast them sans ending up with a couple of dried-out hunks of meat.

In the past I've sauteed them and then sliced, as well as sauteeing them already sliced and making taco filling.....

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  1. Pork tenderloin is very lean and is very dry if overcooked. For a moist pork tenderloin, brine it and don't over cook it. Use a probe themometer and remove the pork tenderloin from gril/oven when the internal temperature reaches 138-142 degrees. Rest the pork tenderloin about 10 minutes before slicing. The pork tenderloin's internal temperature will continue to rise about 5-7 degrees as it rests.

    I suggest you fold and double up up the thinner tail of the pork tenderloin to prevent overcooking this part of the tenderloin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Norm Man

      Brining is the way to go. I cooked one this evening...brined it overnite (sugar, salt, bay leaf, black pepper in the brine), rubbed it with a little of my standard pork rub, then cooked it on a gas grill (indirect heat, grill thermo registered around 350). Delicious, and definitely not dry.

    2. This is a great way to do pork tenderloin:

      Give it a generous amount of salt and pepper. Sear it in a already hot pan (about a minute on each of the 4 sides). Put it in a preheated 350 over for about 10-12 minutes. Take it out, wrap it in foil and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing. I usually put a wine reduction sauce on it.

      It will be slightly pink in the middle....moist and delicious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: janedoe67

        I always shy away from salt if possible. Have been taught by grandmother/mother that salt takes the moisture out of meat. Is this perhaps an old wives tail?

        1. re: older

          Yes, it is. I've had the process of what really happens explained to me several times and still haven't got it straight, but lightly salting the meat tends to keep it moist and juicy, unlike burying the meat in massive quantities of salt which will dry and cure it. I've been presalting every fresh chunk of animal protein I've cooked for several years now, and I wouldn't dream of stopping.

      2. Ah, the "other white meat" formerly known as pork...

        I don't think Costco (at least yet) is selling the "enhanced" modern pork, but do look carefully at the labels to see if there is any ingredient other than pork. Lots of modern pork being sold today is pre-injected with a brine-like solution that tends to make the pork mushy if less prone to dryness. Some markets only sell that enhanced crap. Never buy it; it's always better to brine your own.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          I checked the label on the tenderloin I have in my freezer right now (purchased from Costco) and saw no indication of any additives, although I have seen pre-marinated pork tenderloins being sold there recently.

        2. I'm looking for seasoning-type info....ala porchetta. Is it possible to get any flavor development with such a short cooking time? I want to do this tonight, so no long marinade-type deal.

          Also, I don't know if anybody else has had this problem with brining - things tend to taste like corned beef....even though I've varied the seasoning in the brine solution.

          1. I buy the folded over loin roast at Costco - where they cut a whole loin in half, leaving the bottom in tact, so that it folds over, and then they tie it up to create a cylindrical roast. I don't know if you're talking about this or the cryo-pac whole loin (from which you could do the exactly same thing yourself).

            In any case, it is indeed lean and easy to roast too dry. I urge you to do your best to resist brining. I know that ATK (and others) push brining like its the best thing since sliced bread, but it's not a panacea for lean meat - it changes the meat - and unless you're looking spcifically to make Canadian bacon or some sort of ham from the loin, I'd avoid it. Of course, you could have a salt shortage and need to brine to make up for it - but most of us have more than enough salt in our diets, thank you.

            I have recommended the Weber rotisserie attachment many times on this board, and some have claimed that they can cook anything I cook on the rotisserie without it - well, then I'd issue this challenge: This folded loin roast cooks to moist, tender, perfection using the extreme high heat and a very short time, with constant rotation, that I get from the rotisserie attachment and weber kettle - it's as if the meat was made for this attachment. It may sound counterintuitive to use such high heat on such a lean piece of meat, but it comes out beautifully.

            So if you're a Weber kettle guru that's claimed in the past that Weber made the rotisserie attachment by mistake, Steingarten doesn't know what he's talking about, and obviously, if only the rest of us could learn about the perfect air control possible with the vent positioning... well see if you can actually replicate a moist lean pork loin roast, evenly crusted and cooked without any burnt spots, without using the rotisserie attachment.

            If the solution is high even heat and a short time, I would assume that there indeed may be other ways to do it for those that don't own a Weber kettle or the rotisserie attachment. But it is a perfect solution for this problem.

            I rub the loin roast all over (including in between the pieces) with crushed garlic, rosemary, thyme, s&p, crushed cumin seed, and plenty of olive oil. I put it on the spit, and over hardwood coals piled high on both sides - the temp is over 700F to start. I cook for 45 min to 1 hour for a 5-6 lb roast until the middle of each side is about 135F. It finishes cooking while sitting off the fire - the inside is barely pink, but done, and very moist. We usually pack up one side in the fridge for sandwiches, and have the other for dinner.

            1. wrap it in bacon, roast it in the oven...;) I made one for sandwiches the other night by coating the outside of the tenderloin in bbq sauce, then wrapping the whole think in bacon. roast til mediumish then let rest. tasty...

              Edit...this was done with tenderloin, not loin...making lpins juicy is a whole nother question....

              1 Reply
              1. re: funkymunky

                Sounds great! Pork on pork...what could be better???

              2. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one way to guarantee moist, flavorful and tender pork loin. Hand it to your butcher and have him/her grind it with about 20% pork fat. That's it.

                Any other cooking method is sketchy. When you wrap it in bacon, the fat doesn't penetrate the meat. Larding it doesn't distribute the fat well enough. Brining it loads it with salt and water but the end result isn't as tender as an unbrined loin (this is true for all brined meat). Undercooking gives you some extra moisture... but the taste of rare pork? I don't think so. Sure, it's perfectly safe, but rare pork isn't like a rare steak. It's more like rare chicken, which, imo, is a bit of a stretch culinarily.

                Lean meat is practically worthless. There's a reason loin (and london broil) goes on sale as much as it does. If you want to experiment with different methods, feel free, but I can tell you that I've tried them all and none of them produce a consistently moist, flavorful and tender loin.

                Grind it. It'll be 1000 times better than the ground pork the butcher normally sells.

                1. I pan sear my uninjected, unbrined tenderloin first (can't imagine brining a tenderloin--it'd be ham in no time), so it's well browned on all sides, even the ends, then finish in the oven, using a thermometer to test frequently since it's so easy to overcook. Never dry this way. On the other hand, if you've got an injected model (check the packaging), you'll need to cook it pretty much to well done to get past the mushy texture that these babies tend to have. Because this meat is not that inherently flavorful, I always serve with some sort of sauce that starts life by deglazing the pan used to sear.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MommaJ

                    You're absolutely right about the tenderloin - and now that I look at it, that's what the op posted about - the tenderloin. I just assumed that the op was talking about the loin roast, as they mentioned giant packages. Tenderloin is much easier - and I would never pre-slice it before cooking.

                    The cryo-packed double packages of Tenderloin from Costco are not pre-brined.

                  2. this is one of my favorite recipes from Marcella Hazan. use a meat thermometer, and don't over cook it and it will be fantastic. I know the recipe says shoulder, but i have used loin many times.

                    MILK-BRAISED PORK
                    In this simple recipe, an adaptation of Italian cooking legend Marcella Hazan's Bolognese-style pork loin braised in milk, the meat acquires a delicate texture and flavor and the milk slowly evolves into a rich sauce of golden curds. Don't be put off by its homely appearance!

                    a 2 1/2-pound piece boneless pork shoulder (do not trim fat)
                    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
                    2 cups whole milk

                    Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. In a 4-quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Carefully add milk and cook pork, covered, at a bare simmer 2 hours. Continue to cook pork, partially covered, at a bare simmer until very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Season cooking liquid generously with salt and pepper and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
                    Thinly slice pork and transfer to a platter. Skim fat from cooking liquid and spoon liquid over pork.

                    Serves 4 to 6.
                    February 1999

                    you can add a few sage leaves to the milk for added flavor.

                    peace, jill

                    1. Try this: separate the two halves, pat dry and remove as much of the "silver skin" membrane as you can. Whisk together about half a cup of olive oil, a very generous five-fingered pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and whatever dried herb you want in there. Some crushed garlic, too, if you want it. Pour this into a vessel just big enough to hold the pork, or a Ziploc bag, and "wallow" the pork around in it. Let marinate in that in a cool but not cold place for several hours, checking occasionally to make sure everything's getting its share. A half-hour or so before you cook it, take the meat out and lay the two halves face-to-face, matching skinny against large at each end. Tie four or five lengths of cotton string around the pieces at even intervals. Set on a rack in a small roasting pan, insert your remote thermometer if you have one (and you really should!), and when the oven comes up to 375o roast it to an internal temperature of 140, or no more that 145. Let it sit for 20 minutes before slicing.

                      1. I love a wet brine for pork - low salt and a bit of sugar a la Zuni. I find it takes flavors (chiles and star anise for example) really well. I posted on that awhile back regarding pork chops.

                        but if you're in a hurry, do a rub and grill it fast. we do a chile cumin mix pretty often. as you already know, just don't overcook it.
                        something fennel-based sounds good . . . even fennel, black pepper and salt. let it sit with the spices as long as you can afford and let us know how it goes!

                        1. p.s. I grind my fennel seeds in a pepper mill permanently assigned to that purpose

                          1. I have had great success with a recipe from Epicurious for Pork Tenderloin with Maple Glaze. I actually use the Costco tenderloins myself and have never found them to be dry (I have never brined or anything else of that nature). They turn out beautiful with this recipe:


                            The only thing I change is the temp. of the pork...the recipe calls for 150 but I take it out at 135-140 as it continues to cook while it rests.

                            This recipe is really worth a try.

                            1. I've always found that pan-roasting is most effective for lean cuts, but you need a large cast-iron skillet to do it. Trim the fat and silverskin, and cut the loin into 3-4 inch portions. Let them come up to room temperature while you heat the pan over a moderate flame--drops of water should sizzle in the pan for a few seconds before evaporating. season the portions, add some oil to the pan and when it's hot, place the pork in. turn them every 2-3 minutes--they'll colour up slowly as you cook them to a nice medium rare to medium (about 135 on a meat thermomiter is how i like them). let them rest 5-10 minutes on a rack in a very low oven (no more than 150 degrees, or you'll overcook them) before slicing. Don't use any sugar-containing substances in the seasoning mixture, or the pan will be a real b*tch to clean. the advantage to cutting the tender into portions is that you can remove the tail end when it's done, and continue cooking the thicker portions until they are. hope this helps!

                              1. I usually use it for chinese stir fries and satay. It might be good coated with cajun spices and carefully cooked on the stove (blackened) or roasted.

                                1. Take the silverskin (membrane) off the tenderloin. Cover it with your favorite rib rub (there's good rub recipes at about.com), wrap it in plastic and let sit for an hour (in the fridge if you'd like). Preheat your oven at 450 degrees. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of peanut or canola oil in a cast iron frying pan (it has to be an oven safe pan) on medium/medium-high). brown the tenderloin on four sides (this should take 5 minutes to do, tops). Pick the meat up out of the pan, and hang a metal rack (like a cookie cooling rack) over the top of the pan (i.e. so the rack is suspended across the top of the pan). put the meat on the rack and roast it in the oven four 20-25 minutes - tops. take it out and cover it loosely with tin foil for 5 minutes. Slice and enjoy. It will be tender (because it won't be overcooked).

                                  1. I don't know why but I have found that if I use the tenderloin for shishkebob with the cubes of the meat sandwiched between onions and tomatoes it comes out more moist and tender than any other cooking method. It may be the heat conducted up the metal skewer.

                                    1. Heads up: This thread is 3 yrs old and there have been a number of more recent ones covering the same territory.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        another heads up--half the posters in this thread are referring to tenderloin, and the other half to loin. two different animals....well, actually, the same animal, but two distinctly different cuts.
                                        i believe that the original post IS referring to tenderloins, as at costco they come in a four pack.

                                      2. After several years of brining meats prior to roasting I've decided all it does is make them salty and maybe add a small bit of flavor if you include spices in the brine. Now I brine ribs before grilling or barbeque, but that's about it aside from recipes that require brining, like brisket or pastrami. For pork tenderloin, I like to give it a dry rub (can be as simple as salt and pepper), give it a really good pan sear, then bake uncovered in a 250-275F oven until the internal temperature is the minimum you consider safe (The govt says that's 160F. I take it out at 155F and hope it carries over to 160). Kinda like JaneDoe's or Fiercestream's recipes, but using a probe thermometer to make sure you don't over/under cook the interior, and the lower baking temp gives a more even cooking throughout (more juiciness).

                                        For leftover pork tenderloin, if you actually have any: slice thin (1/8 inch) and marinate in white wine vinegar+olive oil+garlic+parsley+S&P. Serve at room temp or slightly chilled with slices of toasted baguette and sprinkle with the grated cheese of your choice (I like romano or manchego). Go easy on the vinegar.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Zeldog

                                          The trick is to brine or dry-brine meats that are bone - in. I don't even bother to wet brine anything anymore - much more hassle. And boneless tenderloins are much too lean.

                                          I do agree with the dry rub method and is the only way I do pork tenderloin on the grill - with a potent dry rub, and another marinade/dressing to baste it with every 8 minutes on each quarter side. Also, put it on the cool side of the grill after searing it. Comes out juicy & delicious every time.

                                        2. i've always had good luck pan roasting pork tenderloin when its stuffed - i think the oozing ingredients from the middle of the meat helps to keep it moist - my faves are fontina, sundried tomato pesto for a filling or goat cheese, spinach

                                          1. Well one problem is that everyone is telling you the safe minimum temp is 160 degrees. That's for ground pork! The minimum for fresh pork is 145 degrees. You are over cooking it.

                                            1. Preamble:

                                              1. Per chez cherie and others, many people commented in this thread about the wrong meat (loin, while the topic is tenderloin) and some also digressed into enclosed braising, where the OP asked instead about roasting w/o drying out. Which I have never had a problem with, per below.

                                              2. It IS a venerable old thread. It also raises a timeless issue.

                                              Firefly62 has it right: people unnecessarily overcook this meat. As I recall from Corby Kummer's 1980s Atlantic Monthly article on the subject ("Cook pork pink"), some safety margin even is built into the standard numbers quoted in foodsafety.gov.

                                              Pork TENDERloin is a smallish piece of meat, and can cook safely and tenderly rather fast, in a hot oven, so experience is very helpful at estimating and judging. I generally let it come up in temp. a little from refrigeration, right before roasting. At 400 F, I don't need more than 45 minutes and often just 30, depending on size, to roast pork tenderloins to a light-pink juicy perfection.

                                              That's the key: hot, fast, don't overcook.

                                              (If you want extra insurance for juiciness, roast them in an open pan over hot sauerkraut, ALREADY brought to simmer -- in a separate stovetop pot if convenient, preferably with also a little onion, apple, and if possible, juniper berries. Spread the HOT sauerkraut in a baking pan not much larger than the tenderloins and roast the neat on top. The 'kraut picks up some juices and becomes a fine dish in its own right. Greeks do another variant of this idea, using orzo instead of sauerkraut, but that could easily be a whole topic, and probably already is.)

                                              1. I find this fascinating. I eat pork tenderloin at least 3 times a week and it's never been dry. Sear, roast 375-400 for 20 minutes to 135F juicy, pink and delicious.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  Agreed, it shouldn't be much of an issue. The OP's title for this topic, though, implied very different past experience.

                                                  It seems there's an ongoing need to get word out about how to handle pork tenderloins effectively. It is a wonderful versatile meat -- takes spice rubs very well, and leftovers (if any) make exquisite cold cuts, sandwiches, etc.

                                                  Corby Kummer talked about the general topic of cooking lean pork in that excellent magazine article I cited, 25 or so years ago, but people are still being disappointed by dry overcooked pork.

                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                    It's a shame, both pork tenderloin and loin and wonderful cuts with great natural flavor.