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.
Special Equipment: A 10-12 inch sauté pan with an oven-proof handle.
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)
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Season the pork with the salt and the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns lightly into the meat, if necessary, to adhere.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Add the optional tablespoon butter and, using a whisk, swirl around in pan until it has melted into the sauce.
- Taste the pan jus and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Uncover the pork, slice, and serve with pan jus.