Monday, December 7, 2009

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

I know. You expect me to talk about that Simon & Garfunkel song, don't you?

But I won't. I've got other things on my mind. Or in my hip, rather.

Specifically, a cortisone shot. The procedure was very easy, but I was instructed by my doctor to not drive, go to work, or overtax myself.

So for dinner I recruited my oven to do most of the heavy lifting.

I rarely use the oven. I grew up on Filipino food, which is by and large stovetop cooking. The other kind of food I grew up on came out of cans, which we also warmed up on the stove in the pre-microwave days.

Chef Boy-ar-dee or Campbell's Soup, anyone?

But I digress.

In the fridge, I had some remnants of Thanksgiving meal-shopping: a vacuum-packed pork tenderloin from Costco; fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, chives, and garlic; brussel sprouts, granny smith apples, and walnuts.

I also had some Gruyure cheese from some French onion soup I made.


A roast pork marinated in olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic, paired with roasted brussel sprouts and apples topped with walnuts and gruyere cheese, made a perfect -- and perfectly easy --December dinner.

Cook's Notes:

On Meal Composition

In an earlier post, I wrote about my philosophy to cooking on the fly. In sum, it's based on covering the taste sensations (salty, sweet, tangy, bitter, spicy, umami) and having different textures and colors on the plate.

When I decided to cook pork with herbs, I knew as a contrast to the light-tasting meat, I wanted something earthy/bitter (brussel sprouts), sweet (apples/candied walnuts), sour (apples, red wine vinegar in the marinade), spicy (black pepper and red pepper flakes), and umami (potatoes and gruyere cheese). And of course, kosher salt and olive oil as a transmitter of flavor.

As far as textures, the roast pork would be both a little crunchy on the outside but mostly soft. That's why I roasted the brussel sprouts, apples, and potatoes until they were very toothsome and crunchy (as well as soft), and I added the crunchy walnuts and melted texture of the cheese.

It worked very well. The only thing I was missing was color as this was a very brown and green meal. Another way to have gone was to make a salad with greens, the apples, cheese, and perhaps red peppers, but I didnt' have those on hand.

Instead I finished the meal with bright orange clementines and their refreshing sweet/tart taste.

On Cooking Pork Tenderloin

Here are my tips on cooking pork tenderloin.

1) Brine if you have time. A basic brine is 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup sugar to 4 cups water. You can add garlic, fresh herbs, peppercorns, etc., but at minimum, it's salt and water. Mix the brine until the salt dissolves (you may need to heat it first, let the salt dissolve, and then cool). Brine about four hours or over overnight (if over night, cut the salt and sugar in half. Rinse pork when it's brined, dry off with paper towels and continue with your recipe.

2) If you're not brining and you're making a vinaigrette of sorts like I did, be sure to generously salt your pork with kosher salt before you put it in the marinade for a couple hours. Before I cooked the whole tenderloins, I cut off a small end, cooked it and tasted it to make sure it was seasoned properly.

3) Let the pork come to room temperature by letting it sit out for 30 minutes. It will cook faster and more evenly.

4) Sear the pork on both sides before sticking it in the oven for a nice color.

5) Don't guess but use an instant thermometer and take the temp dead center of the meat. I cook my pork to 149 degrees, which makes it the lightest of pink, cooked but still juicy. The ends will be well done, so you'll have a range of of doneness in the pork to satisfy people. Also, if you have leftovers, the pork will reheat nicely.

6) Take out your meat, tent some foil over it, and let it rest for 15 minutes. This is key. The meat's temperature will continue to rise to 159 degrees.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme Paste

Pork tenderloin (1 vacuum-packed pork tenderloin has 2 pieces in it)
1/2 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (e.g., rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs. red wine vinegar (or you can use 1:4 ration of vinegar to oil)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Mix garlic slices and olive oil together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute to infuse garlic into the oil.

Add fresh herbs and red wine vinegar to the oil and let cool.

Rinse the tenderloins, dried them off, and heavily salt them with kosher salt and gave them a good dose of freshly ground pepper.

Put the pork and marinade in a Ziploc bag and let marinate 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.

One hour and fifteen minutes before you want to serve the pork, take it out of the fridge, and let it come to room temperature -- about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the roasting pan (if it's heat proof) or a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add a little oil and cut off a little piece of pork from the end. Cook and taste to see if you need to adjust the seasonings on the pork. Add a little more salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove the meat from the marinade, and over medium-high heat, sear the tenderloins on all sides until nice and brown. This may take around 10 minutes, but it will take as long as it takes.

Put the pork in the oven and cook until it's 149 degrees dead center.

Take out of the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Slice and serve.


sarımsak hapı yorumları said...
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La Table De Nana said...

Comforting..for you and yours I bet..take care..! Hope you feel perfect soon...

Barbara Bakes said...

I love cooking pork tenderloin it's so quick and easy! I'll have to try your version with a brine. It sounds great!

Heidi said...

This is perfect! I'm having my in-laws over for Christmas Eve (for the first time ever) and I wanted to do a pork tenderloin for dinner but I had run out of ideas of how to cook it! This one looks tasty and fun!

Cookie said...

I've always been kind of intimated by potk tenderloin because it's so big and I tend to overcook my pork often. This recipe looks easy enough for me to try and thanks for the tips on brining!

Table Talk said...

Great tips for the pork tenderloin. I agree with you that a good instant read meat thermometer is worth its weight in gold. ~So many people overcook pork. Glad you talked about letting the meat rest, knowing that the meat will continue to cook as it rests.

rebecca said...

Thanks for this, I'm making it for dinner tonight!