Pork tenderloin is a versatile cut of meat. It's accommodating in its shape; easy to carve, perfect for sandwiches (that is if you have any leftovers, which is unlikely), and it is so lean that it doesn't require any trimming.
It is easy to cook, as it isn't very thick and will cook quickly. It may be oven roasted, grilled, or even sautéed, and melds well with seasonings inspired by any cuisine.
Pork tenderloin can be an elegant dish when accompanied by a rich sauce, or a casual entree slathered with barbecue sauce.
Pork tenderloins range from 3/4-to-1 1/4 pounds. They are often pre-packaged with two tenderloins in a package, usually yielding two pounds total. This recipe uses a sort of dry rub, consisting of thyme, salt and two types of pepper, the use of 2 or more types of pepper being typical of Cajun cooking. Pork tenderloins may also be marinated, however, the meat is very tender so it shouldn't be marinated for more than an hour or so, especially if there is any acid in the marinade. This could cause the meat to become mushy after more than an hour of marinating.
Cook pork tenderloin at 350 F rather than at a higher temperature, as it is so lean that it can dry out if cooked at a higher heat. Take the meat out when it reaches an internal temperature between 150 degrees and 160 degrees. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes, during which time the temperature will rise about another 5 degrees.
If the meat is taken out of the oven when the temperature is:
145 F it will be about 150 F when you serve it, and the slices will be somewhat pink and moist;
150 F it will be about 155 F when you serve it, and the slices will be just a bit pink and moist;
160 F it will be about 165 F when you serve it, and the slices will not have a pink tinge but the meat will be moist.
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- Mix together the salt, pepper, and thyme and roll the tenderloins in the mixture, pressing the seasonings onto the surface of the meat.
- Place meat on a rack set in a roasting pan and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on thickness. It will usually reach 160 F after one hour of roasting.
- Slice across the grain to serve.