When everything’s gone the birds — as it does this time of year — it’s time to bring out the other white meat: pork. I love just about every cut, particularly those that take well to curing, but the tenderloin is my standby, weeknight choice — it cooks up quickly, goes with any number of sides and is very lean. A quick rub with olive oil, sprinkle of salt, pepper and, for a little kick, hot paprika, and it’s ready to hit a hot skillet. Seared quickly on all sides to give it a nice crust and seal in the juices, then into a hot oven it goes. Start to finish, you’re looking at no more than twenty minutes cooking time. And if there are any leftovers, thinly slice ’em for sandwiches the next day — it’s particularly good with aioli and spinach.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes (including cooking)
Serves: 2 – 4
- 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 – 1 1/2 pounds), remove from fridge about 30 minutes prior to cooking (if possible)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hot paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a dry, 8″ cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
Trim silver skin from pork and cut in half — so the tenderloin will fit in the pan more easily, NOT lengthwise into into two skinny, long pieces. Pat dry with paper towels then drizzle with olive oil (about 2 teaspoons), rub it around to coat surface. Sprinkle all sides with salt (about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon) and a few grinds of pepper. If desired, sprinkle with hot paprika (about 1/2 teaspoon), rub it around to cover surface evenly.
Set both pieces on the hot skillet. Sear each for about 1 minute on the first of three sides — it’ll be golden, with a bit of a crust when it’s ready, and release very easily. Turn to the next side (2/3) and repeat searing process. Turn once more about 60 degrees and sear the final side (3/3). (We don’t care about the two ends!)
Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and roast for about 10 – 15 minutes, turning about half way through, or until each registers 145°F¹ on a meat thermometer. Remove to a plate, loosely tent with tin foil and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes¹ before slicing (across the grain) and serving.
¹ Back in 2011, the USDA lowered its recommended final cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork to 145°F as long as you allow for 3 minutes of resting time.