Pork tenderloin is a crowd-pleasing meat that can be cooked a number of different ways. Cut from the near the top of the rib cage, this muscle is used very little during a pig’s life, and so has an incredibly lean and tender quality, making it tastier and healthier than most other pork cuts. The tenderloin absorbs marinades and rubs excellently, and its small size and lack of fat make it a relatively easy meat to cook. In this guide we’ll be looking at several methods, including grilling, roasting and pan-frying. But before that, let’s check out ways to marinade your pork.
How to Marinade Pork Tenderloin
Marinades are a great way to infuse more flavor into a pork tenderloin. You can use a simple marinade such as olive oil, parsley and garlic, or olive oil with lemon juice and thyme. Alternatively, try something fancier, such as a teriyaki marinade or a bourbon and soy sauce combo.
Marinate the pork tenderloin in a plastic, sealable bag, and leave it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. At this point, the tenderloin will be ready to cook following one of the methods below.
If there’s leftover marinade that hasn’t been soaked into the pork, you can use it to make a sauce: boil it in a saucepan, reheat it and add a touch of corn starch to thicken it into a rich sauce before pouring it over your cooked tenderloin.
Please note: if you don’t have time to marinate your pork tenderloin before cooking it, don’t worry. It will taste great by itself, or with salt and pepper and other basic seasonings.
How to Grill Pork Tenderloin
Take your tenderloins out of the refrigerator (and out of their marinade, if there is any), and let them rest until they reach room temperature.
Get your grill to reach medium-high or high heat. Then place the tenderloin over indirect heat. Cook it evenly by grilling each of the four “sides” (the tenderloin is cylindrical in shape but we can approximate four grilling sides from it). Each side should cook for 4-5 minutes before turning to the next side.
When all 4 sides are done, there should be a nice brown crust around the entire tenderloin, but without being too charred. If you have a thermometer, check that the internal temperature reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow the tenderloin to cool down before serving it, so the juices can redistribute themselves.
How to Roast Pork Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 430 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large ovenproof pan or skillet with oil.
Use a paring knife to slice away any silver skin or connective tissues from the pork. Rub the pork evenly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sear the tenderloin in the pan over a high heat stove, around 2-3 minutes per side until nicely browned.
Before placing the tenderloins in the oven, you may wish to season them further, and add a bed of vegetables beneath them that can be roasted simultaneously (potatoes or onions work well, but make sure you pre-roast these to browning point in advance before roasting them with the tenderloins).
Place the pork in the oven. Since pork tenderloin is quite lean, it’s important not to overcook it, or it will lose its juiciness and become dry. So check it regularly with a thermometer, and roast until its internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (this should take around 20-30 minutes).
Once they’re ready, remove the tenderloins. Wrap them in foil and let them sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing them to cool while the juices redistribute.
Slice into desired pieces and serve.
How to Bake Pork Tenderloin
For baking, follow the same guidelines as for roasting (above), but decrease the oven temperature to below 400 degrees. This method results in less browning/crispiness on the outside of the tenderloin.
How to Pan-Fry Pork Tenderloin
Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, coconut oil or butter to a frying pan, creating a thin layer on the bottom. Place the pan on medium heat. Clean your pork tenderloins, and coat them eggwhites, flour and breadcrumbs if you wish, along with salt, pepper and other desired seasonings.
Add the tenderloins to the pan. As with grilling, consider the loin as having four sides, cooking each side until golden and crisp.
Serve with choice of sides.