This time of year, with the holidays approaching, I love having some quick yet "fancy" recipes in my arsenal, ready to whip up when unexpected company stops by and easy enough I can use it as a satisfying weeknight dinner.
That's where pork tenderloin comes in.
While many may state that they find pork tenderloin to be too dry, I believe that's just because they haven't found the right way to cook it.
Let's start with why pork tenderloin can be so valuable:
- It's the leanest cut of pork and while there is nothing wrong with fat in our diets (hallelujah that myth has been busted), it's nice to have a leaner cut which also helps reduce cooking time.
- They don't need much aside from a good seasoning, quick sear and a few minutes in the oven.
- Since the tenderloin is actually one whole muscle near the loin of the pig, it is sold as a whole piece usually about 1-1.5 pounds. This is a perfect amount for 2 people (plus some leftovers - see below), and yet you just need to add another tenderloin if you are expecting more guests. This is made even easier since often two tenderloins are sold in a package.
- Leftover pork tenderloin options are limitless - cubed and used in soups, thinly sliced to top a salad and my favorite way, sandwiches!
Now, when it comes to cooking pork tenderloin, simple and quick is best. It can either be marinated like it is here or simply seasoned before cooking. The trick to getting perfectly cooked pork tenderloin, however, is to first sear the meat (this locks in the juices) and then quickly cook it in a high heat oven (425F in this recipe). Always make sure to rest the pork tenderloin before slicing into it so that the juices can be redistributed.
For this recipe, I chose to make a simple marinade with coconut aminos, orange juice, ginger and other spices. Using the coconut aminos (which I just loaded up on from Thrive Market) gives the marinade a sweet but not too sweet flavor. To keep things simple, I love pairing this easy dish with some sautéd kale or green beans and some rice.
Orange Ginger Pork Tenderloin
Time: 40 plus 2 hours to marinate
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1/2 cup coconut aminos (I use this brand)
1 medium orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon grated ginger (about a 1 inch piece)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut aminos, orange juice, zest, ginger, garlic, grounf cloves and salt.
2. Place pork tenderloin in either a shallow baking dish or a plastic bag with a strong seal. Pour in half the marinade and half of the sliced scallions. Make sure pork is covered in the sauce and refrigerate for 2 hours, flipping halfway through. Set aside remaining sauce in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place oil in an oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat.
4. Take the pork out of the fridge and remove from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Discard marinade. Once oil is hot, place down in the pan and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
5. Once all sides are seared, place pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes*. While the pork is cooking, place sauce from earlier in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently to avoid it from burning.
6. After 15 minutes, remove the pork from the oven and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing into medallions. Pour reduced sauce on top and garnish with remaining scallion. Serve with sautéd garlic kale and cauliflower (or regular) rice.
* NOTE: Pork tenderloin can easily be overcooked so keep a close eye on it and remember, it is A-OK to eat pork that is slightly pink in the middle so long as it reaches the temperature of about 140F - 145F when measured at the thickest part of the meat.