Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared a recipe with you for Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto? It was a simple recipe with some simple ingredients that turned out to look and taste great. Well, today I am happy to share another fancy fake-out meal, this time using pork tenderloin and again, it’s safe for those following a Whole 30 plan.
Pork tenderloin has got to be one of the most undervalued meats out there. It’s super easy to cook, really affordable and works really well with many different flavour combinations. The first time I cooked it was when I tried my hand at party-hosting for the first time. I was in my early twenties and decided to throw a Murder Mystery Party at Mike’s house. It was our first Halloween together and I thought a small dinner party and game would be the perfect way for our different groups of friends to meet and get to know each other. The party went off without a hitch, everyone had a great time and the pulled pork that I made turned out amazing. I was a little worried about cooking for my friends so my mom suggested pulled pork. “It’s fool-proof,” she said and she wasn’t lying. Some delicious BBQ sauce and a few hours later and you’ve got a perfect meal every time.
Over the years, as my taste and experience matured, I gradually started trying different cooking methods with different flavour combinations. I can often find some great deals on pork tenderloin at the grocery store, so whenever it’s on sale I make sure to stock up.
For today’s recipe, I wanted to make something where I could use the herbs that have been growing amazingly well in my vegetable garden and experiment with my cast-iron skillet. Every professional chef on TV will tell you that a good cast-iron skillet is a kitchen staple. We purchased one for ourselves shortly after we moved into our house, but since then have only used it a handful of times. I’m super intimidated by this piece of cookware. I’m uncertain about how to clean it (do you clean it??), I get nervous that I will burn myself on the handle and I’m overly cautious about scratching my glass-top stove. After watching countless cooking shows and reading numerous cookbooks that rave on and on about it, I decided I needed to pull mine out of the cupboard and use it.
For this recipe, it really helps if you have a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t you’ll definitely need a frying pan that can go from stove top to oven. I’ve cooked pork tenderloin in the oven only and that works out well too, but you seem to get so much more flavour when you sear the edges first on the stove top. You’ll want the pan really hot, so I like to stick it in the oven while it preheats. The oven need to pre-heat to 400 degrees, so if you put your skillet in there while it heats up, it will be the perfect temperature for searing.
To start, you’ll need to clean the meat if that hasn’t been done for you already by your butcher. There is often a silver skin on the meat that you’ll want to take off before cooking it. You may also want to trim the fat, but don’t take it all off – it helps to give the meat lots of flavour. When you finish, pat it dry with a paper towel and set aside at room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and a combination of herbs. I used thyme and summer savory because that’s what I had in my herb boxes, but rosemary is another great choice. Whisk it all together until it’s mixed well. Pour the mixture over the pork tenderloins and rub it in so all sides are covered. When the pan is hot and the oven is preheated, carefully take the pan out of the oven and put it on the stove over high heat. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and when wisps of smoke start to appear, add the tenderloins. After about 2 minutes, pour the balsamic vinegar over the meat and flip to sear the remaining sides.
After all edges have been seared for about 2 minutes each (until nicely brown), transfer to the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. After 20 minutes check the internal temperature with a thermometer. You want to pull it out when it reaches around 145 so you can let it rest for about 10 minutes. The perfect temperature for pork tenderloin is around 155 for medium. Slice it into medallions and add some veggies and you’ve got a great meal easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for entertaining.
To make a sauce to go with, simply de-glaze the pan with some stock or water, and season accordingly. This dish is super simple and comes together in no time! Add some roasted potatoes and veggies and you’ve got a great family meal.
Hope you enjoy!
Herb-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
Impress your friends and family with this delicious pork tenderloin recipe perfect for an easy night of entertaining.
- 2 pork tenderloins, about 3 lbs total
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3 Tbsp fresh chopped herbs (any combination of rosemary, thyme or savory)
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup of stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place cast-iron skillet in oven while it pre-heats.
- Prep the meat by removing the silver skin and trimming some of the fat. Keep some fat on to keep the tenderloin moist and give flavour. Pat dry and set aside.
- In a small dish, combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the meat and rub in to cover all sides.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and place on burner on high heat. Add remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. When oil sends up small wisps of smoke, add tenderloins and brown each side for about 2 minutes. After the first side is browned, turn and add balsamic vinegar.
- Cook uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway. Remove when internal temperature is 145 and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice into medallions when temperature reaches 155.
- To create a sauce, de-glaze the skillet by gradually adding 1 cup of stock and stirring. Allow it to come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes while the meat rests.