Pork Tenderloin with Black Pepper

November 30th, 2008 by megan · 10 Comments

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We don’t eat a lot of meat in our household – not because we don’t like it, but because good, sustainably raised meat is a touch expensive these days. We belong to a food co-op that gets most of its meat from local farms, and still we have trouble affording it with any regularity. But I’d rather eat less meat than eat meat of questionable quality. I haven’t heard a better quote about meat issues than this one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (author of the River Cottage Meat Book), who says in his “Meat Manifesto”:

“Think about the meat that you eat. Is it good enough? Good enough to bring you pleasure every time you eat it? Could it, should it be better? Are you among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means? Perhaps it would make sense to spend a little more on it, a little less often. Or to buy cheaper cuts of better meat.”

This post is, by no means, a preachy manifesto, but you can taste the difference between meat of “dubious means” and meat raised in a sustainable way. (Same is true of eggs and dairy.) Frankly, sustainably-raised meat (and eggs, and other dairy products) just tastes a lot better. Read more about the “dubious means” over at the Green Fork or at Ethicurian or at Eating Liberally.

This is a super easy recipe for pork tenderloin. Simple ingredients, simple cooking method, and very quick – a perfect weeknight dinner. I serve it with roasted potatoes (or mashed would be good) and a nice salad. The key is not overcooking the pork – you want a bit of pink remaining. Pork these days only has to be cooked to 150ºF – and by letting the meat rest for a few minutes, the temperature will rise a few degrees more. Also – when you sear meat, don’t move the meat around! Just put it in the pan and let it cook. It will release itself when it’s formed a nice brown crust.

Serves 2-3.

Special Equipment: A 10-12 inch sauté pan with an oven-proof handle.

Sliced pork tenderloin

Sliced pork tenderloin


One 1-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of any extra fat and silverskin (the silvery looking tendon-y stuff)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon very coarsely ground black pepper (grind in a pepper grinder or use a meat mallet or small skillet to crack whole peppercorns)
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed with the side of your knife
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Season the pork with the salt and the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns lightly into the meat, if necessary, to adhere.
  3. In a medium saucepan with an oven-proof handle, add the olive oil and garlic and heat on medium-high until the garlic is just golden, turning the garlic occasionally, 1-2 minutes. Remove and discard garlic clove.
  4. Turn the heat up to high. Add the pork tenderloin and sear on all sides, about 5 minutes per side, or until the entire tenderloin is evenly browned.
  5. Put the entire pan (with pork) into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150ºF. Carefully turn the pork once during cooking.
  6. Very carefully, remove the pan from the oven (remember that the handle will be very, very hot). Remove the pork to a plate or cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat remaining in the pan. Carefully place the pan over high heat (do not clean pan) and add the chicken stock or water. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture boil until reduced slightly (a little less than 5 minutes).
  8. Add the optional tablespoon butter and, using a whisk, swirl around in pan until it has melted into the sauce.
  9. Taste the pan jus and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Uncover the pork, slice, and serve with pan jus.


Olga Nov 30, 2008 at 10:14 pm

This looks great! I decided pork tenderloin is the only cut of pork I’m going to be cooking…everything else just doesn’t work as well.

Gavin Dec 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Awesome photo. We’ve totally been in a Pork Tenderloin rut in our house…kind of stuck with a sorry brined and baked concoction that’s really lacking any kind of style. Not to mention that it’s way more complex than your simple, elegant little beauty. Looks like we have a new recipe to try. Thanks for the post!

Destin Layne Dec 1, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Speaking of pork. I thought I was almost done with it (well, except for bacon of course…) until I added some spicy italian pork sausage in my cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving and WOWZA. it’s resurrected in my book. my mom loves pork tenderloin and im looking forward to making this recipe with her Megs, thanks for a wonderful post.

Shaun Dec 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Just made this.

In the top ten meals we’ve enjoyed this year.

Pierre Dec 8, 2008 at 10:31 am

You know what’s really good with pork tenderloin? Any pork product: Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, more pork tenderloin.
So, in the interest of being preachy and sustainable what have you got for third-cut pork ideas?

Pierre Dec 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

Love the simplicity of all the recipes. If you have good ingredients, you just need to cook them perfectly instead of covering up with fancy or frou-frou crap.
As Escoffier said “Faites Simple.” Make it simple.

megan Dec 8, 2008 at 10:56 am

Hi Pierre. Thanks for your comments. Sometimes I do wrap pork tenderloin in prosciutto. Sometimes I make a pork tenderloin saltimbocca with prosciutto, sage, and marsala. Just for you I will put up a pig ear recipe soon. As soon as I can find a sustainable pig ear.

megan Dec 8, 2008 at 10:58 am

Maybe we should collaborate on a tur-duk-en type dish but made only from pork.

Grandma Dec 10, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Hi Megan! Aunt Jeanne just showed me your website and I’ve enjoyed seeing your pork tenderloin, butter, quince jam and other delicious recipes. I know you’re busy and I’m thinking about you and Mike alot. See ya soon. Lots of Love, Grandma from the NJ Farmhouse.

Pork experimentation; what to do with your meat in an innuendo-free zone « Foodies South West Jul 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

[...] I bought a pork tenderloin yesterday, not a cut of meat I usually buy as I don’t eat a huge amount of red meat usually. It was not a specially good tenderloin, alas it was not bought from a local butcher because I was shopping in an area where there isn’t one. Please please visit your local butcher and buy meat if you have one! Pic: Brooklyn Farmhouse [...]

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