The Best Cut You Don't Know
Tenderloin. As it's name suggests, this decadent cut is the most tender on the animal. It's primarily known as a cut of beef and most famous for yielding Filet Mignon. But it's pork counterpart is equally tender and delicious and if you're not familiar with it, you're missing out.
Cut from the muscle that runs from the hip to the shoulder, the pork tenderloin is a long, super-lean cut. It's quick and easy to cook and incredibly versatile. It can be roast whole, grilled, sliced into medallions or slow-cooked to shred into long tender strips.
If you're mouth's watering already and you want to dive in, check out our incredible Heritage Pork Tenderloins here. Want to get to know this cut a little better? Here's everything you need to know:
Pork TENDERloin is different from Pork Loin
While similar in shape, the loin and tenderloin are completely different cuts and actually come from different parts on the hog. Smaller and leaner than its counterpart, the tenderloin cooks much more quickly. People often make the mistake of substituting pork tenderloin for pork loin, and vice versa, but they don't make ideal substitutes because they vary in size and, therefore, cooking time.
Pretty in Pink
While pork is known as the "other white meat", the tenderloin is redder than chops and a lot of other well-known cuts of pork. The ideal color for the tenderloin is similar to that of pork ribs. Once cooked, the flesh will turn whiter, but still retain a hint of its pretty pink color.
While tenderloin is renowned for its leanness, it's usually sold with a thin layer of fat known as "silver skin" on the outside. When cooking, this fat will break down and cook off, so there's no reason to remove it before cooking.
Like most meat, pork tenderloin will benefit from a little pre-rest outside the fridge and a post-cooking rest before slicing and serving. Take your tenderloins out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking so the meat can come to room temperature which will lead to a more even cook. After cooking, ten minutes of rest before slicing will do wonders for retaining the juicy goodness of the tenderloin.
145° is Your Target
Pork doesn't have the same range of preferred doneness as beef. Too rare and it's just not going to taste good. Too well-done will yield a tough piece of meat. Fortunately, the middle zone that you're after is fairly wide and forgiving. Target an internal temp of 145° if cooking with a thermometer. But don't worry about ending up a little below or above that. While you want to stay above 135 and below 155, anywhere in between will be delicious. If not using a thermometer, follow your recipe's guidelines for cooking temp and time.