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Pork Tenderloin noob questions

I have a two pound pork tenderloin that I want to make soon. My cookbook tells me you can roast it for 1.5-2 hrs at 350 til it reaches the 155 degree mark. Should I go slightly lower temp on the meat? Pork being one of the kinds of meat you have to cook fully I don't want to get sick or anything. The book says take it out before it reaches 160 so it can rest and still cook a bit more, but not to let it get past 160 or it will be dry. It also gives directions to broil it in the oven for only 12 minutes. Which is the better choice? Alternatives?

I would probably make the whole thing as the roll and then let it rest a bit and slice it. Should I just give it a dry rub first or coat it with oil and then rub in some seasonings? Should I marinate it overnight in something? It says on the package it's extra lean. What should I serve with it? I'm thinking pulled pork bbq sandwiches or something. Not sure.

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  1. Is it a loin or a tenderloin? That seems like a long time for a tenderloin to me. Also, I readily ignore cautions to cook pork well done. In my experience, it always ends up dry, and the concerns about trichinosis (sp?) are much lower today than in years gone by. I often cook pork loin (butterflied and rolled up) so that it is still a bit rosy in the middle. Delicious. I can dig up the recipe that I have - it's a Batali one, and has loads of garlic, white wine, parsley and sage that you spread over the flattened piece of meat before rolling it up.

    8 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Here's a photo of the dish ...

      1. re: MMRuth

        Hi MMRuth!

        That looks delicious. I just bought a pork tenderloin and woudl love to have the recipe, if you'd be so kind (or is it in one of his books? I have a couple that have a recipe for butterflied and rolled pork loin porchetta). Thanks!

        1. re: Rubee

          I'll post it - it's from a book on Italian wines - there's a recipe for each region - mostly from Batali and Bastanich (sp?).

          1. re: MMRuth

            Porchetta Sarda - Batali recipe paraphrased from "Vino Italiano"

            NOTE - START THE NIGHT BEFORE - but, it is served at room temperature, which makes it a very convenient dinner party dish.

            5 pound piece of pork loin, butterflied/pounded into 10 x 7 inch square, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (Now, I always end up with a much larger square - I don't see how 5lbs of pork can end up that size - I have my butcher prepare it for me)
            4 T Kosher salt
            12 large garlic cloves, cut into 4 pieces each
            1 cup Vermentino wine,or other dry white wine
            12 Fresh Sage leaves, julienned (I use additional whole ones to decorate the top of the roll)
            2 bunches finely chopped Italian Parsley
            1/4 cup plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
            1/2 cup honey - preferably acacia or bitter Sardinian variety
            Zest and juice of one lemon
            1 Cup Chicken Stock


            The night before:

            Put pork in large pan and cover with 3 T salt and 4 cups water, brine in refrigerator overnight.
            Mash garlic into paste and put in bowl with the wine, to sit at room temp overnight.


            Oven - 400 degrees
            Rinse and dry pork
            Combine garlic and wine with sage and parsley, whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil.
            Sprinkle remainings salt on inside of pork, then rub in wine-garlic paste - in my experience, you don't get a paste - it is still quite liquidy - I rub in the solids and pour some of the liquid on - and save some of it for a later step.
            Roll and tie with butchers knots at 1 inch intervals - I make sure to tie it quite tightly - and actually run the string across the bottom of the roll and then do the "loops" in 1 inch intervals and then run the string around the middle of the whole thing, b/c the filling falls out easily - I think you can see from the photo above how I do it.

            Put it in a roasting pan. Mix honey with lemon juice and zest and brush a thin layer on the pork and season with lots of ground pepper. At this point, I carefully tuck whole sage leaves under the string in a pretty pattern.

            Cook for 70 minute or until internal temp is 140 degrees (worth checking after 50 minutes or so) - I like it a bit rosy in the middle.

            Baste every 15 minutes with honey mixture - this is where I add in whatever wine/oil is left. Also, even though it doesn't say to do so, I think I turned the pork as well, so that it spent some time on each side and each side got browned.

            Cool on a rack over a plate for 30 minutes. Deglaze the pan w/ the chicken stock and reduce to 2/3 cup, strain and whisk in remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

            Serving - cut off string and slice into 1 inch slices - drizzle w/ sauce, serve at room temp. I've made this twice for dinner parties and it has been a hit.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Sounds fantatstic. Thank you so much for taking the time to type that up! I can't wait to try it.

              1. re: Rubee

                You are welcome. BTW - that wine book is wonderful - there is a recipe for each region - I found this one b/c we decided to start exploring Italian wines from the south - Sicily and Sardinia - haven't made much progress from there though!

              2. re: MMRuth

                Adding this note from cooking it again subsequently:

                "After 50 minutes, the thermometer was at 140, so I took the roast out of the oven. It was incredibly moist, though not rosy inside. "

                1. re: MMRuth

                  MMRuth - Just read this post some 4 years later... your recipe sounds lovely. Have you ever done the Zuni mock porchetta and if so, are there any comparisons to your method/recipe above? Thanks for any advice/thoughts on the subject. Grazie!

      2. I think extra lean tenderloin will get way dried out if prepared by that method. Marinating can be a good idea, but with tenderloin I like it stuffed (for flavor) and cooked quickly.
        Crowd pleaser:
        Cut your loin in half to make 2 manageable pieces. Use a knife to carve a hole through the pork, forming small tunnels through each half. Roll up (together) thinly sliced prosciutto and mozzarella, and slide the roll-ups into the meat cavities. Lightly dredge the the pork rolls in a flour/salt/pepper mix. In a hot pan, melt 1 part butter to 1 part olive oil, and sear the pork pieces on all sides. Lower the heat and cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the pork, and make sure that it is cooked through (but light pink is fine). Add some white wine to the pan, and simmer it quickly down to a sauce. Slice the pork rolls on an angle, into pieces about 1.5 inches thick. Plate them and pour sauce over. This goes well with sauteed mushrooms.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vvvindaloo

          That's how I ended up making it. Thanks. Turned out pretty well. I think I put a little too much salt in the flour though, but live and learn right? That's cooking.

        2. Yes it is a Smithfield Extra lean tenderloin looks a lot like MMRuth's pic, of course not cooked yet!

          MMRuth and vvindaloo, both your recipes look great. Thanks for the tips. I do like the idea of putting prosciutto/mozz in there and wine. Good to know that trichinosis is less likely a factor in cooking pork these days.

          If you want to send me a recipe you can PM me (I don't know if you can do that on this site) or just post it in the thread for others as well. Thanks a lot!

          1. I prepared a port tenderloin last week for pulled pork sandwiches. I used my slow cooker. Added 2 cups of chicken broth, about a tablespoon of homemade bbq rub and 1/4 cup of homemade bbq sauce to slow cooker. Mix rub and bbq sauce with chicken broth. Add tenderloin and cook on high for about 2-1/2 hours. I found an easy way to pull pork is to add 2" or 3" chunks to my KitchenAid mixer. Mix on medium with triangular beater. The pulled pork comes out moist and tender.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Antilope

              I love pulled pork. Your recipe sounds similar to mine (though my sauce and rub both have a ridiculously long list of ingredients). I made some recently, but would never think to use tenderloin. I actually cooked a 4lb. pork shoulder in a dutch oven for 7 hours on low heat, with beautiful results. I do not own a slow cooker, and have never used one. This may sound like a dumb question, but why would one use a "slow cooker" on high heat? Perhaps I am not understanding what one is.

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                High on a slow cooker is 200F-220F. I would normally make pulled pork (from butt or shoulder) in my backyard Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (charcoal fired, bbq smoker) at the same temperatures. However, pork tenderloin is so lean, I didn't want to risk drying it out in the smoker. Cooking pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with a little seasoned broth results in a very moist and tender pulled pork. You can also add a little liquid smoke to the recipe. My wife prefers pulled pork from the tenderloin. She says it doesn't taste fatty like pulled pork from the shoulder or butt.

                1. re: Antilope

                  The fat content of the shoulder is exactly why I like it! Thanks so much for the slow cooker explanation.

            2. I always put mine in a rub of some sort (sometimes molasses and mustard, sometimes just fresh herbs rubbed into the meat), sear it (this is pretty much a must in my book) and then toss it in the oven. If the seasoning of choice allows it, some fruit cooked slightly on the stove top (apricots or apples) is always a welcome accompaniment.

              1 Reply
              1. re: danikm

                Does the molasses not burn when you sear it?

              2. It is really hard to dry out a pork tenderloin, contrary to the advice above. I make one at least once a week. The tenderloin may be the most forgiving of the cuts. Go ahead and cook to 175 or 180 and don't worry about it. Be sure to use a thermometer. Pull it out at the short side of 175 and let it rest a few minutes. At the worst case, you can try it a bit less next time. It doesn't matter how you get there because this roast can take it, unlike the regular loin, which tends to dry out. I grew up believing that pork should never be pink, and I just can't bring myself to eat it that way. It is now really only a preference, as most pork is irradiated and getting trichinosis is practically impossible unless you are using organic meats.

                Basically, this is the filet mignon cut of pork, and you know how hard it is to overcook a filet mignon because there IS fat in the meat, but it is just fine grained and not that visible. It is not as lean as loin. I also marinate mine in Terriyaki or lime juice/cilantro with some cayenne and have never been disappointed.

                BTW -- I would not overcook pork chops or other loin roasts because they can get tough.

                1. I have eaten plenty of pork tenderloin that was pink in the middle, and I have never gotten sick from it. And note that I tend to have a sensitive stomach.

                  That said, I don't think pork tenderloin is the right cut for pulled pork. For that, you want pork shoulder, also referred to, oddly, as pork butt. You cook this low and slow, like brisket, and it is ready when you can shred it easily with two forks, or, if you're impatient like me, your well-washed hands. You can use a smoker to do this, or you can use a slow cooker. Of course, smoking will give you more flavor. For the slow cooker method, rub your shoulder with your preferred spice mixture and brown it on all sides. Place thinly sliced onions on the bottom of the cooker, put the shoulder on top fat cap side up, and add liquid of choice until it is about one inch up the side of the shoulder. Cook on low for eight hours. Take out the shoulder and the onions, and remove the fat cap. You can fry this cap to make it crispy, if you'd like, and add some of it back into the meat. Shred the meat, mixing with the onions, and serve on good buns with your favorite homemade 'cue sauce. This method is not real barbecue, of course, but it will yield tasty results if you don't have time to tend a fire or if you don't have a smoker.

                  1. It sounds like you are making a pork loin, and not a tenderloin. There's no way you would cook a tenderloin for 2 hours. I slow cooked a 7lb pork loin last week in my bbq pit. It took around 2.5 hours to get to around 155. Don't worry about trich. It's killed at 140, and there are about 12 cases per year in this country. Anway, I marinated it in balsamic vinegar and rosemary, among other things. It came out incredibly moist and tender.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hudsterboy

                      I've never kept a pork TENDERLOIN in the oven for more than 25 minutes. I believe that overcooking p.t is a crime. :)

                    2. I recently made one of those pre-marinated loins and IIRC, the package recommended about 30 min per lb. @ 350. I got a 1.33 lb roast and it turned out perfect after a little longer than 1/2 hour. Two hours sounds like too long of a time to roast the meat. I think pulled pork requires a fattier cut. How about a cuban sandwich instead? Dry rubs that contain either sage or bay leaf really compliment pork. I especially like Penzey's bay leaf seasoning. Even a little ground sage and s & p can make a nice rub for pork.

                      1. I used to work at a restaurant and they would do soak pork chops in a brine. doing so, the pork soaked up the salty water. this will help flavor the pork as well as keep it more moist longer during cooking. you could give that a try to your tenderloin and then just add various herbs or rub in the brine or before cooking. gl.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: paloucsd

                          I was going to recommend brining, myself. I use brines for the lean cuts of pork I end up with from the market. I like putting in bitter orange juice for the flavor it imparts, along with garlic and onion and peppercorns as well as salt, brown sugar, and broth. :) It's an Alton Brown recipe from his book "I'm just here for the food" (or something like that).

                        2. I agree with many of the posters, this is way toooo long to cook this. We do these pork loins all the time and 20 min. per lb is perfect. My last one was only 1 lb and I was a litte concerned with only 20 min. but have to remember it continues to cook when you pull it out and rest for another 5 min before you slice it (otherwise you lose all those wonderful juices). It was perfect!!!! Most people overcook these and I personally don't enjoy dry pork, when you have one that is done right - you won't want to go back to overcooked pork.

                          A nice balsamic berry sauce with it is great. Combine 3/4 cup blackbery jam or blueberry in a saucepan with 2 TBSP of balsamic vinigar - heat til smooth. You can add 1 cup of blueberries or blackberries few minutes before serving. Keep sauce warm and covered. Another nice one is apricot jam and orange juice.

                          Slice the pork loin and then drizzle this sauce down for a nice presentation or on the side in case some don't like it.

                          1. Giada has great recipe in one of her books for pork loin with a port & fig sauce, I wasn't quite sure how it would taste (the sauce) but it turned out great. If you like apple sauce with your pork you'll love it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Archimedic

                              Giada from Food Network. She's awesome (and hot). I am kinda new at sauces but maybe will try next time I make pork. Thanks. VVVindalos's recipe was great with the prosciutto and mozz nuzzled inside and pan fried. And I know Giada loves that Italian style.