Pork Tenderloin

I tried my first last night. I'm using an oven. So all I did was put some olive oil in a baggie, add a bunch of pork rub, and then marinated my tenderloin overnight (and all the next day).

I then put that mofo in a skillet and browned the outside, preheated my oven to 325, placed my pork slab in a glass cooking thing and covered it with Al foil. Everything online said it would cook in 10-15, but after 10 I took it out and added KC style BBQ sauce to one half (I was experimenting), and it was not close to done. I put it back in, turned it up to 350, and left it another ten minutes. Checked it again, wasn't quite done but close - I swirled my BBQ sauce just so I felt like I had done something, and put it back in for 5 minutes.

Now here are my questions for your pro cookers out there.

It was a little pink inside, and pretty juicy - so I was happy with that. The half with BBQ sauce was way better, the half with just pork rub was a little bland. My issue is that all the flavor was on the outside crust, which is a very very small percentage of each slice. Is there a good way to get more of that inside? If I slice it before cooking it will be too thin and dry out I think. Do I just marinate it longer? Should I marinate it with BBQ sauce?

Overall it was very good, but I'm looking for something more in the awesome realm.

EDIT: Oh, and what the fuck is brining it? Do I soak it in salkwater for a night, then marinate it for a night?

ROzbeans 12 years ago

Brining any meat can add a significant amount of water to it before you cook to make meats juicier and tenderer. You can actually increase the total weight of a cut of pork by 15% or more. While this is purely water weight it is liquid that takes time to cook out. Therefore the amount of water that remains in a piece of meat during cooking can increase greatly. This makes it moister and more tender. The basic formula for a brine solution is 1 cup of salt (preferably without iodine) to one gallon of water. This is a very good rule to follow. While under-brining won't have a negative effect of foods, over-brining can be disastrous. Either using too much salt or brining for too long will leave you with a cut of meat that is too salty to eat. Don't worry about the 1 cup of salt that's only 1 tablespoon per cup or water. The solution should be salty to the taste but not thick with salt. This formula assumes that you are using regular table salt. If you are using a coarser salt, like kosher salt you will want to add more, about 1 1/2 cups per gallon. This is because kosher salt weighs less by volume.

When it comes to the amount of time you want to brine something it is more important not to brine too long than not long enough. While some cuts of pork can use days in a brine, even a relatively small amount of time can be helpful. Pork generally takes a long time to get the full effect. Now I wouldn't bother brining a cut of pork if you didn't have at least a few hours but with smaller cuts even 3 or 4 hours can do the trick. Do not; however go longer than the times on this chart.

Pork Chops (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick) - 12 to 24 hours

Whole Pork Tenderloin - 12 hours

Whole Pork Loin - 2 days

Brining times are not only determined by the weight and thickness of meat but also by the grain of the meat. Pork tenderloin takes less time to brine by weight than do pork chops because the long running grain pulls the brine into the meat.

The most basic seasoning that you want to add to your brine is a sweetener. This can be sugar, brown or white, molasses, or maple syrup. As a general rule add 1/2 cup of sweetener per gallon of brine. As for how much brine you will need, consider the size of the container you are going to use and the size of the meat you want to brine. A brine solution should be enough to completely submerge the meat you want to brine.

Additional seasonings can be derived from any recipe you might be using or your own preferences. Herbs and spices as well as garlic and onions will add flavor to pork. Try not to overpower the flavor of the pork but just add a hint of flavor. Garlic and onions should be minced or chopped to expose the maximum amount of surface area to the brine solution.
pharren 12 years ago
Pork that is pink inside = you're prolly gonna die. Say hello to St. Peter for me!
ROzbeans 12 years ago
That's not too bad. Pink in chicken is bad. Pink in pork, as long as the juices run clear, should be ok.
Vulash 12 years ago
I checked it with my spectrometer and it was safe (I hope)
Verileah 12 years ago
Brining is wonderful . Other tips:

Use that meat thermometer - do not slice into the meat to check for doneness or you will lose your delicious juices.

Don't cover it - set the tenderloin on a roasting rack, tuck under the thin part so you have a solid log of goodness, and roast that fucker at 350 or higher. You can roast it at like 400 until it gets to like 140, then reduce the heat and ease up the temp to, er, 160ish.

Let it rest. If you pull it out and start slicing, you will not only, as mentioned previously, lose all your juices, but you will also have stringy meat. Here is where you can cover it and just let it sit for like 10 minutes. The temp will go up to 170 during this time, and the juices and the meats will compose themselves into delicious goodness for you to eat.

And finally, pork tenderloin is also delicious grilled. Mmm. Same basic theory here.
ROzbeans 12 years ago
Letting your meat rest is like the first thing I learned from Top Chef =D
Verileah 12 years ago
Fozzik always wants to argue with me about letting the meat rest :\. He says it doesn't make sense for the temperature to go up after it has been pulled out of the oven. He also doesn't believe the meat thermometer and wants to slice things open to see if they need to go back in the oven. It's quite vexing.
Gongaa 12 years ago
Fozzik always wants to argue with me about letting the meat rest :\. He says it doesn't make sense for the temperature to go up after it has been pulled out of the oven. He also doesn't believe the meat thermometer and wants to slice things open to see if they need to go back in the oven. It's quite vexing.

Remind him that it's the temperature at the center of the cut that's going up, not the overall temperature of the entire cut - that would indeed violate the first law of thermodynamics. And meat thermometer > defacing everyone's food 11 times out of 10.


I'd leave the foil off next time, dude. When you cover a dish like that, you're no longer roasting or braising - instead, you're steaming the meat. This is probably what caused you to need to cook it longer. The higher air temperature and lower humidity around the meat when you leave the foil off will allow the proteins in the juices that come to the surface to congeal, which makes the outside even more flavorful. I also wouldn't overdo the marinating with a tenderloin - it's such a fine cut of meat that the taste is actually about the meat itself and not the marinade. You'd probably get more marinade flavor out of marinated baked pork chops with some fat on them.

Another few semi-unsolicited tips:
* Try to find a cast iron frying pan (with oven safe handle - cast iron or steel) at a yard sale for dirt cheap. Then you can do what's called pan roasting, where you sear the cut in a hot pan, then throw that bastard straight in the oven instead of changing dishes (which radically drops the temperature of the meat on one side and causes it to cook unevenly).

* If you marinate in bbq sauce (I wouldn't, honestly) thin it out with a little apple cider vinegar. Also, since you're making the marinade pretty acidic by doing that, don't let it marinate for more than an hour or two, otherwise you'll dissolve the proteins, which will make the meat rubbery and weird when cooked.

* If you do go the bbq sauce marinade route, don't sear it in a pan - you'll burn the sugar in the sauce. If you want to bbq the meat in the oven, sear it first, then brush the (undiluted) sauce on the meat, then it goes in the oven. You'd probably need to lower your cooking temperature and increase your cooking time so that the sauce caramelizes without charring. You'll definitely want to have the meat thermometer if you do that.

* Like Roz said, avoid iodized salt in marinades (and other sauces) - it can cause discoloration. People who say it tastes different, though, are experiencing psychosomatic effects of knowing that there's iodine in it.

* Use the good shit that comes out of the tenderloin to make a sauce. Here's a simple brown sauce that's good:

  • About 7 minutes before your meat's done, mix equal parts butter and flour in a small saucepan (this is called a "roux"). Cook that over medium high heat, stirring *constantly* with a wire whisk.

  • After those 7 minutes are up, your roux should be turning medium brown and developing a nutty smell. When you then take the meat out of the oven and set it aside to rest, deglaze the dish / pan you cooked it in with vegetable stock (or other stock if you want to change the flavor up - vegetable will help preserve the pork taste, though). Edit: 1 - 2 cups of stock should do.

  • Pour that mixture into the roux. Keep your face away from the pan and watch your stirring hand when doing this - there will be a lot of steam in the first few seconds.

  • Keep stirring that bastard with the whisk. As you do, the sauce will reduce a bit and start to thicken. After a couple of minutes, test to see if it coats the back of a spoon. If it does, give it a taste test.

  • Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and maybe some of the spices in your marinade. Don't overdo it, though.

  • If you wanna get fancy, serve the sauce under the tenderloin so people can see how you could culinarily kick their ass. Having let the meat rest will keep it from gushing juices all over the place so your sauce shouldn't run all over the place and make things look messy.

Also, using a whisk instead of a spoon when making sauces like that makes all the difference in the world.
Vulash 12 years ago
I didn't have a meat thermometer last night but I'm going to get one. I did let it rest a bit.

Ok give me a few days to eat some other stuff and I'll give this another try with these tips! Thanks guys!

Oh, so do I brine it then take it out and marinate it another night?

Also, the temperature in the middle goes up (yay diffusion, we could model it!), the overall (average) temperature shouldn't go up.

EDIT: Gongaa beat me to the temperature thing. What a fucker
Gongaa 12 years ago
Oh dude, also super important: Take the meat out of the fridge well before you plan on cooking it. It needs to be room temperature throughout so that it cooks as evenly as possible.


What a fucker.

Vulash 12 years ago
Good Lord I need to use this section more often there is good shit here.

Are there other advantages to the cast iron pan besides being able to put it straight in the oven?
pharren 12 years ago
More effective for bonking people on the head
Vulash 12 years ago
but you can't use soap to get the blood out
Verileah 12 years ago
Apple Cider Vinegar is a staple in both my kitchen and my bathroom. Great for moppin' sauce and for oatmeal vinegar purifying facials!
Gongaa 12 years ago
More effective for bonking people on the head


I'm a cast iron evangelist. Those things are big fucking heat sinks, so if you want to make something crispy (like chicken fillets), just let it get good and hot before putting the meat in. The temperature in the pan will be more constant than if you had used steel or aluminum.

On the other hand, it does have its limits. Dropping a cast iron pan is a bad thing - both for your floor / foot and the pan. It'll probably crack. And you shouldn't cook acidic foods (e.g. spaghetti sauce) in it unless you like weird purple sauces that taste like when you put a battery on your tongue. Blech. If you get the ones that are all one piece (i.e., handle is also cast iron), you'll probably give yourself a pretty awesome burn on your hand at some point before you get used to using a mitt to fry, or just not touching the pan.

Mine has a perforated steel handle that doesn't heat up while you're frying, but is still ok with going in the oven. Best of both worlds!
Vulash 12 years ago
My new roomies have one, but I was scarred of fucking it up so I use my regular ole skillet
Verileah 12 years ago
If you get the ones that are all one piece (i.e., handle is also cast iron), you'll probably give yourself a pretty awesome burn on your hand at some point before you get used to using a mitt to fry, or just not touching the pan.

Yeah . Fozzik managed to burn both hands in one evening before refusing to ever use my oven-safe pan again :X.
ROzbeans 12 years ago
Takes some skill using cast iron, getting used to it. Not that I ever have - again thank you Top Chef, but it's the best way to cook. Try brining one night and then marinading another - won't know until you try, but I bet that shit is super tender and tasty if you do it for 2 days.
Vulash 12 years ago
I'll report back here with a graph of my success (or lack thereof)