BRAISED PORK TENDERLOIN
Pork Tenderloin is such a lovely cut of meat in terms of texture, with its mild flavor making it a great candidate for punchy sauces and seasoning. But it does tend to be a bit tricky to cook. Many people have told me they tend to over cook it, it dries out and/or becomes chewy. I’ve had the same experiences in early days, and I’ve found my success with cooking pork tenderloin comes from 2 things: 1) Marinating it in milk (yes milk) and spices for 4 days (yes, 4 days) to tenderize, swell the fibers with moisture, and infuse with flavor. 2) When cooking, it’s important not to completely submerge the meat in boiling liquid as it needs a slow cook at a low temperature (aka, below boiling point). If the meat goes above 145, you’re going to have a nice piece of shoe leather on your plate (yes, sarcasm). I gave this recipe a difficulty rating of 3, just to indicate that you need to pay more careful attention to the steps…but it’s really quite simple recipe with a short list of ingredients.
- FOR THE PORK & MARINADE
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pork tenderloins
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp grain mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup milk
- FOR COOKING
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- ½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper your pork tenderloins on all sides. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, thyme, mustard and Worcestershire. Distribute evenly across the 2 pork loins, and rub the mixture into the meat using the back of a spoon.
Place your seasoned pork loins into a Ziploc bag and pour in the milk. Seal, trying to squeeze out as much air as possible, and let sit in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Remove the Ziploc bag from the refrigerator one hour before cooking to let the meat come closer to room temperature.
When ready to cook, remove pork from marinade, reserving the liquid for later.
Heat a 2 ½ quart, shallow braising pan (with short side handles) on medium-high, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and brown the pork on all sides (about 3 min per side). Remove pork from pan and set aside.
Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft and golden.
Add the wine to deglaze the pan, cooking about 2 min and stirring to dislodge any of browned tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
Pour in the reserve marinade and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
Place the browned pork loins on top of the boiling onion mixture and immediately cover the pot with its lid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Place the lidded pot into your Wonderbag and seal for 6-7 hours.
To Serve: Move pork to a cutting board for carving. Place your pot back on the burner over medium-low heat to further reduce the sauce a bit (if desired), while you carve the meat. Pour sauce into a pitcher, gravy boat, or directly over the platter of meat.
Tips: My go-to pan for braising in the Wonderbag is a round, 2 ½ quart Le Creuset, cast iron pan that measures 11 inches in diameter, and almost 2.5 inches deep (with a tight fitting lid of course). When your bring the reserve marinade to the boil, the milk might look like it wants to curdle, but just keep whisking it vigorously to emulsify and it will smooth out nicely. When carving your pork, try to slice it thin, on a diagonal (45 degree angle) as this will deliver the tenderest bites…and it just looks better!