Pan-Seared Oven-Roasted Pork Tenderloins
This entrée yields the best results with organic pork that hasn’t been treated with water, salt or preservatives. Try it with a delicious dried cherry port sauce for a different twist.
“Enhanced” pork—pork that has been injected with water, salt, and sodium phosphate—does not brown well, owing to its extra moisture. We prefer natural pork tenderloins that have not been injected. Because two are cooked at once, tenderloins larger than 1 pound apiece will not fit comfortably in a 12-inch skillet. Time permitting, season the tenderloins up to 30 minutes before cooking; the seasonings will better penetrate the meat. (Note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests a final temperature of 160 degrees. The choice is yours, but we find 160-degree pork to be unpalatable.) The recipe will work in a nonstick or a traditional skillet. A pan sauce can be made while the tenderloins rest (recipes follow); if you intend to make a sauce, make sure to prepare all of the sauce ingredients before cooking the pork.
2 pork tenderloins (12 to 16 ounces each), trimmed of fat and silver skin
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the tenderloins evenly with the salt and pepper; rub the seasoning into the meat. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place both tenderloins in the skillet; cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, rotate the tenderloins 1/4 turn; cook until well browned, 45 to 60 seconds. Repeat until all sides are browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the tenderloins to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven (reserve the skillet if making a pan sauce); roast until the internal temperature registers 135 to 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 16 minutes. (Begin the pan sauce, if making, while the meat roasts.)
2. Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil (continue with the pan sauce, if making); let rest until the internal temperature registers 145 to 150 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the tenderloins crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, arrange on a platter or individual plates, and spoon the sauce (if using) over; serve immediately.
Dried Cherry-Port Sauce with Onions and Marmalade
Makes enough to sauce 2 tenderloins
The flavors in this sauce are especially suited to the winter holiday season.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick, (about 1 1/2 cups)
I cup port
I cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
Salt and ground black pepper
1. Immediately after placing the pork in the oven, add the oil to the still-hot skillet, swirl to coat and set the skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. (If the drippings are browning too quickly, add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.) Set the skillet aside off the heat.
2. While the pork is resting, set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the port and cherries; simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add any accumulated pork juices and continue to simmer until thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Off the heat, whisk in the orange marmalade and butter, one piece at a time. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.