[Sous Vide] Recipe: Bacon Fat Poached Pork Tenderloin

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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

Olive oil

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.

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Place both tenderloins in the same vacuum bag. Add the bacon fat.

Yup. That says "bacon fat".

Yup. That says "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.

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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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9 Comments

  1. Posted February 11, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Look how pink and moist those tenderloins look!

    Pork on pork action under vacuum. Noms.

  2. Sally
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Ahhhhhh! I have decluttered my kitchen and you’re making me want to build a sous-vide sooooo bad! Looks scrumptious.

  3. Greg
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks- this worked out great! From now on all my pork is going to be sous vide with bacon grease.

    • Posted August 11, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink

      Dude, that’s awesome! You are the first person that has told me that they actually cooked one of my recipies. Glad to hear it worked out!

      • Greg
        Posted September 28, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        I have made both pork chops and pork tenderloin this way now. The pork chop is good, but the tenderloin is definitely a huge improvement sous vide with bacon grease. To ensure moisturey goodness I used an amount equal to about a 1/4 of your jar! Of course, most of the fat doesn’t sink in and will poor back out when done. I have 1 critique of your recipe- it doesn’t seem to make sense to trim the excess fat (especially before cooking), especially given that you are going to add more fat too it.

        It is a shame so many people are influenced by the “saturated fat is evil” dogma- there really isn’t any good evidence for this (read Good Calorie, Bad Calorie by Gary Taubes if you want a review of the evidence).

  4. Posted October 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m just getting into Sous Vide myself – I didn’t have the patience to build a custom machine, I just bought the Polyscience immersion circulator one from Williams Sonoma (it’s pretty awesome though).

    I’ll have to try this recipe and your Ribeye one. I’ve done ribeyes myself and they’re fantastic.

    One other benefit of Sous Vide you may be interested in is the ability to (if done correctly) preserve amazing meals for up to a month in the fridge, ready to go in about 10 minutes whenever you feel like them. I posted about it on my blog if you’re interested: http://www.nicklavezzo.com/?p=292

    Keep the Sous Vide goodness coming :)

  5. Robert
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for the super quick recipe for what to do with pork tenderloin when costco has the special $5 off a pack going and you can’t resist and don’t want to waste it just making pulled pork.

    That’s definitely one of the top 3 things that’s come out of my sous vide supreme in the last 6 months. Even my girlfriend that hates pork loved it.

    Your recipe fits my style of 2 minutes to prep and 5 minutes to grill finish at the end.

  6. Posted March 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures and recipe. I love bacon fat and make my own bacon which is quite easy, really. It takes 10 days of salting, and 4 to 6 hours of smoking, but you end up with amazing bacon that you can not buy, cheap too. The recipe comes from the wonderful book Charcuterie. I have the parts of a souse vide machine coming next week and will definitely try your recipe.

  7. Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to echo the previous comments about this recipe. I just made it for dinner tonight and it turned out beautifully.

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