Sunday, April 11, 2010

How To: Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

Last weekend when I was in NJ, my mother passed along to me her original "real" digital camera, the Canon 10D. I used it for some of my zoo pics, but I am still trying to figure out the kinks, as it were. Mostly I am having issues with focus, as you will see from the photos below. (Yes, I will read the manual at some point.) But I'm having fun with it, because you can't help but feel like a "serious" photographer when you're hauling around a camera that big and heavy.

On to dinner.
I don't believe I have posted this recipe before (am I already repeating myself after only 3 months?) so here goes: Simple Pork Tenderloin.

Growing up I really did not like pork chops. Maybe it was a texture thing, because I still avoid them when on a menu. Pork tenderloin, however, is a whole other animal. (A "wonderful, maaaaagical animal" according to Homer Simpson, a.k.a. actually the same animal, a la the Lisa is a Vegitarian episode.)
Pork tenderloin is exactly what it sounds like: the tender loin cut of the pig. It is juicy and velvety in texture, provided you don't "cook it to death" in fear of trichinosis. (A little pink is good, people.)
This is different  from "pork loin" which is a bigger cut of meat.
Here is how not to cook it to death.
Preheat your oven to 400º and set your pan on medium heat.
As ever, start with a couple crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil, and crushed dried rosemary. Maybe a tablespoon's worth. (Some day I will buy a mortar and pestle and not have to prick my fingers crushing dried rosemary.) Also, if you have fresh rosemary, use minced fresh. I just don't use the herb often enough to ever buy fresh.
When the oil is rippling, remove the garlic from the pan and add your seasoned ROOM TEMPERATURE pork tenderloin. I cannot stress enough: NEVER COOK COLD/CHILLED MEAT!
Sear your meat for about 6-7 minutes on the first side. (Make sure there is enough oil/fat in the pan so the meat does not stick, which is what happened to me, because I was using my nonstick fry pan for the peas.) After the first side has browned, flip your tenderloin, and place the pan in the 400º oven for another seven minutes. It should come out perfectly cooked and still slightly pink in the middle.
If one end of your tenderloin is narrower than the other, tuck that under the end so it does not overcook while the rest is cooking. The tenderloin I had here was fairly even in thickness throughout.

When your pork tenderloin comes out of the oven, let it rest to one side for about 7 more minutes, to let the juices redistribute. At this time, if you want to make a pan gravy, throw some diced onion/shallot into the pan that cooked the pork, sauté, add a little flour, cook 2 minutes, and deglaze with your liquid of choice. Just remember, that pan handle will be HOT so use a mitt or something when stirring, etc..

When your tenderloin is done cooking in the oven and resting, dice up a slice or two of prosciutto in a tablespoon of oil or so, in a non-stick pan. 

Once it has crisped and rendered for about 3 minutes, add your frozen peas, and about 3 tablespoons of water, and stir. Your peas should be done in about 3-4 minutes. About the same time your tenderloin has finished resting.

Hey look! A close-up of leftover horseradish-cream potatoes from Easter! I may be posting this a week later, but I promise I only cooked this a few days later. The potatoes were still viable, if a little over-onion-y. Waste not! I added a spoonful or two of  ricotta cheese before reheating the potatoes, to give them some sort of moisture and freshness, and kind of half-mashed them. May not be pretty, but it was tasty.
There we go! A shot of the pork. See how it is still a little pink in the middle there? Just a faint blush? THAT is how your pork should be cooked. Otherwise you're just eating tasteless hockey puck.
I do not understand people who eat their meat "well done". They should just call it "over done" because that is what it really is. If you eat your meat that way, just go vegetarian. Please? Don't do that to perfectly good meat. Clearly you don't like meat if you insist on treating it that poorly.
I will rant about that again and again in the future, I promise you.

You may notice that there is no sauce on my pork. That is because my pan gravy did not come out. Oh it was perfectly smooth and thick... I just did not like what I chose to deglaze the pan with.  What did I use? I foolishly used some leftover dry sherry (of Onion Soup glory) when I should have used something a bit sweeter. At least I was in the mood for something sweeter, so was not pleased with the outcome of my gravy.
Live and learn.
And go cook!


Jordan said...

I am SO making this for dinner tonight. Yum Yum

Rainey said...

Food porn!

Oh how I love.

*claps hands in delight over finding amazing foodie blog...maybe does a little jumping up and down too...?*

Rainey said...

Oh, and by 'food porn', I meant like awesome, mouthwatering, motivational pictures of delicious delicious.

NOT 9 1/2 weeks.