All You Need to Know About Pork Tenderloin

Currently sitting at my favorite neighborhood patisserie – nibbling on the best chocolate almond croissant in Park Slope (Colson at the corner of 9th and 6th ave) – piecing together the clips of my first totally solo video project. And it’s starting to feel like a mining operation: pealing away the jumbled parts of my 3-hour, single-take, cut-less footage and jerky tripod adjustments – a testament to the importance of asking for an extra set of hands. However, my favorite part of this whole process of making these videos has been the challenge of putting my film schooling to practice in this new food video domain. It’s not perfect and my standards are much too high but it’s really fun. I love the process of demonstrating a process. Food is a process. It’s practice and it’s putting your knowledge of ingredients and tools to the test. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way we envision but when it does the process of getting to that point makes you feel like an expert the next time around. Being confident and accepting the process is the key to success.

This video came about because some folks commented on one of our pork tenderloin Instagram posts, professing their frustration with pan-searing pork and that it never looks like “that”. But, I’ll be honest, neither did mine. It took me a few tries and lots of deep breaths to get it right. Laura and the crew would probably say it was my biggest hurdle. But I’m here to tell you that it is possible! Here are a few tips I picked up in the process 🙂

  • Prepping a pork tenderloin:
    • Pork is best seared, to get that crispy, unctuous crust, then popped in the oven at 425 degrees to finish.
    • First, you must trim off something called the “silverskin”. According to my research, “silverskin is connective tissue that doesn’t dissolve when the tenderloin is cooked, so it needs to be trimmed away” ( Hold it tightly with your fingertips and stick a sharp knife, preferably a boning knife or pairing knife, through to make a thin slit and follow the tissue until it’s removed.

  • The longer you marinate, the better.
    • Next, it’s important to marinate the tenderloin for as long as possible, at least an hour. Although, we all know apple and pork is a winning combo, pork is also great with almost any citrus. Pork absorbs flavors beautifully. You can adjust your seasonings to go along with whatever you’re making.
    • Make sure you strip the pork of excess marinade before you start searing but don’t pour it down the drain just yet! You’ll use it later. You can also add a little something extra to the marinade after you’ve stripped it like honey or agave, sriracha, anything that is likely to burn in the pan while it sears. We added honey to the recipe in this video and created a sweet glaze.
    • (Bonus tip: you can also make extra marinade before you add the pork to use as salad dressing!)

  • How to get the perfect sear every time:
    • When you’re searing pork, or anything for that matter, you want to make sure your pan is really really hot. You can test this with the water splash test, if it sizzles you’re ready to go. Add the oil. This can be anything you have laying around but if you’re getting really technical, you’ll want something with a “high-smoke-point” (things like grapeseed oil, safflower oil or canola oil). Make sure it covers the whole surface of the pan, then carefully layer the meat on top. It will splatter so watch out!
    • You’re going to create an even sear around the whole tenderloin so it’s crispy all the way around. To do this, you’ll roll the pork toward (or away) from you, allowing the pork to get a nice sear on each roll. On the last roll just turn, spread with your excess marinade or glaze and pop it in the oven.

  • Finish it off in the oven.
    • Oven timing is tricky here because oven temps vary, pork girth vary, and different pans transfer heat differently. Before you give up, there’s an easy solution. Welcome meat thermometer! Check the pork after about 6-8 minutes. Stick the thermometer in the thickest park of the meat. You want it to read 135-140. It will finish cooking while it settles.

  • Let it rest!
    • Probably the most important tip we can give you is to let it rest. Make sure the pork rests for at least 10 minutes – just enough time to whip up your salad or strain your rice. This will ensure juicy pork. Even if you think you overcooked it, it will still be delicious and juicy if you allow the meat to rest.
  • Save le jus.
    • The final tip I have is to pour the juices that pool on your cutting board over the meat. It’s a trick I learned long ago and will never serve meat to another living soul without it. Perhaps the simplest way to transform a piece of meat into a savory chef-d’oeuvre.

Our go-to pork marinade ingredients and pairings:

As shown in the video:

  • Roasted pork tenderloin with lots of fresh thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt + pepper and honey to finish.
    • Paired with delicate Boston lettuce, shaved radish, lightly blanched green beans, and brown rice with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette
  • Roasted pork tenderloin with orange zest, garlic, grainy Dijon mustard and honey to finish
    • Paired with roasted sweet potato wedges, quinoa and simple arugula salad with citrus Dijon vinaigrette
  • Laura’s Cooks vs. Cons pork tenderloin:

Yogurt: A Love Affair

Siggi's Yogurt Orange and Ginger Roast Pork Tenderloin and Scallions

We love yogurt at What We Eat. Plain yogurt is a super delicious and versatile ingredient; it gets as friendly with our granola as it does our roasted veggies. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also crazy good for you, too — chock full of probiotics which are good for your tummy, high in protein and low in sugar so extra filling.

So you can imagine that when we caught wind of Siggi’s recipe contest, we jumped at the chance to participate. Siggi’s is a local company that makes skyrr, a thick Icelandic yogurt that’s not too sweet. They, like us, champion the use of simple, whole food ingredients and not a lot of sugar. Their contest challenges registered dieticians to create recipes with Siggi’s yogurt that align with the ethos of their brand. The top twenty entrants will secure a spot in the forthcoming Siggi’s cookbook.

For recipe inspiration, we turned to our imaginations (or in my case, a healthy dose of the Sqirl LA Instagram feed). After some texting, some coffee and one epic trip from Williamsburg to Red Hook and back again (it’s a long story), we headed for the kitchen.

Siggi's Yogurt Roasted Acorn Squash with Frisee and Micro Greens, Pickled Fennel and Toasted Seeds

The rest of the day was a blur of cooking, testing, tweaking and tasting. Of course, there were some oh man’s and I should have’s. But you know what? There were more belly laughs than anything else. We had fun.

The truth is, cooking like this comes naturally to us. It’s the food we want to eat. And I think that shows in this recipe collection, which is small but mighty.

There’s orange and ginger roast pork tenderloin, super savory and full of flavor. Roasted acorn squash with tahini-honey yogurt, an ode to the end of winter produce. And last but not at all least, spiced pear panna cotta with cardamom, not too sweet but creamy and lovely to eat.

Siggi's Yogurt Spiced Pear Panna Cotta with Cardamon and Pear Puree

When we went home that evening, we felt full and nourished and happy. And, as always, we want to share that with you. So look out for our Siggi’s recipes, which we’ve been sharing weekly on Instagram. And try incorporating any yogurt into your meals in new and creative ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Green Goddess Dressing

Blend a few scoops of yogurt with ripe avocado, lemon or lime juice to taste, a little olive oil, plus fresh basil, mint, cilantro, scallions or chives for a super quick, healthy and delicious avo-yogurt dressing.

Tahini Yogurt

Mix 1/3 tahini with 2/3 plain greek yogurt. Season to taste with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Spread over the bottom of a serving bowl and top with raw or cooked veggies. Roasted sweet potatoes, freshly sliced avo, cilantro and sliced scallions is an oft-repeated variation on this around here.

Honey Yogurt

Add honey, toasted walnuts and cinnamon to taste and serve with any sliced fresh fruit or pound cake.

Yogurt Marinade

Whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon, garlic, ginger, salt and black pepper. We love to use this with chicken or pork. Depending, you may also want to incorporate spices like paprika, cayenne and cumin, or an herb like chopped cilantro. Transfer meat to a ziplock bag and coat with marinade. If possible, let marinate several hours, preferably overnight.