Though you wouldn’t be able to tell by my posts, I have been sous vide’ing almost every piece of meat that I have cooked since putting my rig together. Most of my friends thought I was either crazy or just nerding-out when I first told them of my plans to make a water oven. They all became instant converts as soon as they tasted the food it produced.
After my first crack at sous vide with steak, the next protein on my list was definitely pork. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare long enough in advance to try a 24 hour Boston butt, or even a 12 hour pork chop (which I have done since, and it’s just as good as it sounds), so I opted for the leaner pork tenderloin.
In general, the tenderloin ranks low on my list of favorite cuts of pig. It is the leanest, most prone to drying out, and has the least intense pork flavor. I prefer to be kicked in the balls by porky goodness. That doesn’t mean I’d ever turn my nose up at well prepared pork tenderloin; it’s just not my favorite.
It is because of these flaws that the pork tenderloin is a perfect candidate for sous vide. It eliminates the concern about overcooking the meat and locks in all of the natural juices, thus highlighting the natural pork flavor that comes through so easily with some of the fattier cuts. Of course, I wasn’t content with just the natural porky goodness. I had to kick it up a….wait…it’s not 2001. Sorry about that.
On this particular evening, I cooked two tenderloins and completely winged it on the recipes. I only intended to write about one of them. Survival of the fittest. May the best pork win.
The first was seasoned with salt and pepper and treated to a mustard rub. The second was poached in bacon fat. Guess who came out on top?
Recipe: Bacon Fat Poached Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins
3-4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and black pepper to coat
Preheat your water bath to 141 degrees F.
Clean and trim your tenderloins of excess fat and silver skin. Season evenly with salt, pepper, and sage.
Place both tenderloins in the same vacuum bag. Add the bacon fat.
By the way, if you don’t keep and cook with bacon fat, then you are missing out. I will probably dedicate an entire future post about the benefits of using bacon fat in cooking. But, for now, just know that it has a better saturated fat percentage than butter. And it makes things taste like f’ing bacon. ‘Nuff said.
Add the garlic powder and vacuum seal the tenderloins. Place the bag into the 141 degree water bath for 1 ½-2 hours, depending on the thickness of your cut. You can actually get away with cooking these for a shorter period of time but I like to play it safe. Eliminating bacteria is a function of temperature and time. That is the beauty of sous vide: you don’t have to worry about drying out the meat by cooking it longer and you get some peace of mind that you’ve killed any potential bacteria despite cooking at lower than normal temperatures.
As with all things sous vide, you want to get some crust on these suckers when they come out of the bag. Heat your olive oil in a sauté pan at medium high and sear the tenderloins for 1-2 minutes per side, or until you have a nice golden crust. Remove from the sauté pan and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
While the mustard rubbed tenderloin was pretty good, and equally as tender and juicy as this one was, the addition of the bacon fat really took this to another level. The extra layer of smokiness and intensity of pork flavor that it adds made this the clear winner. Going forward, this will probably be my fallback for cooking tenderloin sous vide.
Like I need another excuse to cook with bacon fat.
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