Why, hello Blog. My name is cliche. Have we met?
Not because it is Tuesday, but because I discovered something yesterday that nearly drove me to a four way conference call with my mother and sisters (totally doable on iPhones, we discovered about a week ago), I’ve decided to to alliteratively theme this post.
I am slowly coming to discover that in raising their children, my parents’ priorities were completely different from the priorities of most parents, then and now. Today’s topic: pork tenderloin.
This was a bi-weekly staple dinner in our house. Turns out it is another one of those childhood things that I completely took for granted, as I never knew how freaking expensive those things were/are (and my family ate two!). Even though in my thirty-one years of life I’ve never actually been to any of the Disney theme parks and my one and only trip to Europe I fully funded myself, let it never be said that my parents didn’t spoil us in a few ways. Good food, I have since learned, was one of them. (If I could redo things, I think I’d still choose lobster every year for New Year’s Eve over a week with Cinderella.)
In my grown up house, however, pork tenderloin is a rarity. For two reasons. Besides the fact that it is so expensive (and I really hate the good-deal pre-marinated ones at Sam’s Club), when I have sprung for it, I most often over-cook it.
Yesterday I happened upon a stuffed pork-tenderloin at my favorite grocery store, that was not only on the regular weekly sale, but the only two left in the meat case each had additional three dollar off coupons attached. For five dollars, I figured I’d give them a try. If I screwed up the first one, I’d adjust before tackling the second.
This was a basic pork tenderloin which had not been seasoned or marinated, but simply cut lengthwise down the middle and stuffed with apricots, almonds, and something creamy and cheesy. It came vacu-sealed for easy freezing, and the directions included cooking it right in the disposable pan it was sealed to. Dinner and no clean up? Can life get better…?
Aside from the pan, I didn’t trust the rest of the cooking instructions. I do not own a meat thermometer (hint hint children, Christmas present idea), but somehow, an hour in a 350 degree oven seemed like a recipe for a really dry piece of meat. The thing wasn’t quite two pounds.
So I opened the best cookbook ever bequeathed to my generation. (Google.)
I admit, I read fifty of the reviews at the bottom of the recipe before attempting this because of my doubt, but like every single one of them, I’m now a believer and could write a ditto-review of my own.
Here’s what you do:
- Marinate or season your unfrozen meat in advance, then make sure it has come to room temp before cooking.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. (I actually thought this was the “self-clean” temperature, but it is not.)
- Bake the tenderloin uncovered for five and a half minutes per pound of meat. (In the day and age of the microwave, figuring undercooking was preferable to over-cooking, I estimated my cook time at seven and a half minutes.)
- TURN OFF THE OVEN.
- Leave the tenderloin inside for one hour.
- Do not open the door (in fact, utilize the self-cleaning lock function if you have one and you also have a husband nearby).
I have a vague sense that this is a similar method to cooking a prime rib, but I’m also under the impression that there is a bone in a prime rib that somehow heats up and cooks the meat from the inside out. I could be wrong about this. (No doubt my mother will let me know in the comments below.)
You can well imagine I was skeptical. But so were all fifty of the five-star reviews I read.
The tenderloin was perfect. Cooked through, but moist and pink in the center. I actually salted mine a little on the outside and poured some teriyaki sauce on the un stuffed ends before I cooked it, and it was the best meal I’ve made in a long time. In fact, it sat on top of the oven once it was done for another half hour while I roasted a cabbage (which we then topped with blue cheese dressing and my kids devoured it) and it still maintained moisture, heat, and perfection.
We did not have any leftovers.