Pork Tenderloin Anatomy

Pork with Apples and Onions is an easy dish for a weeknight supper. First, you have to know what to buy. All four-legged animals have a muscle, called the loin, that runs along either side of the backbone. In a steer, this muscle represents itself as a rib-eye in the rib section and with a pig, it’s center cut pork chop, around the waist of a pig — if a pig had a waist. The loin muscle doesn’t get much exercise and therefore it is fairly tender and appropriate for shorter cooking times. Think steaks and chops. The legs get much more exercise, are less tender, and are best prepared with low and slow, longer cooking times. Think pot roast and stews.

Underneath the loin is a muscle called the tenderloin. The skinnier, more tapered end known as the tail, starts around the back of the rib cage and ends in the sirloin area, nearest the hips. This muscle gets even less exercise than the loin and is even more tender, hence its name.

Pork tenderloin is great for a weeknight supper. This recipe is quickly seared, but also contains the apples and onions, making it a more robust dish. Make sure to look closely at the package when you are buying the tenderloin. Some of the packaged tenderloins that are labeled “natural” have up to 30 percent added “flavor solution,” which basically means you are paying for water and salt. Stay clear of the the pre-made marinated ones, as well. It’s just more salt. The way I look at it is that you’re better off brining it yourself.

Once you remove the tenderloin from its packaging you will see a silver to white connective tissue on one side of the meat called silverskin or fell. The correct anatomical name for this is fascia, a membrane that holds together the muscle bundles. It does not add any flavor, doesn’t dissolve, and can be tough when cooked.

To remove the silverskin: insert the tip of a sharp boning knife just under the membrane about 1/2 inch from the edge or end of the meat where it begins or ends. Concentrate on keeping the knife closer to the membrane than the meat and pulling up slightly with the knife, run the knife along the length of meat to remove . Repeat the process until no silver skin remains. Proceed with the recipe.

Thanks so much for reading. Let me know what you think if you give my Pork with Apples and Onions a try!

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Virginia

Pork with Apples and Onions

Think 30 minutes ahead to quickly brine the pork. It is optional if you don’t have the time on a busy weeknight, but well worth it.

Serves 4

1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
2 quarts very hot water
2 quarts iced water
1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
2 apples, cored and cut into 8ths
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
4 sprigs thyme, plus fresh leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup homemade chicken stock or reduced fat low sodium chicken broth
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the salt in a medium bowl. Add 2 quarts hot water and stir to combine. Add ice and cold water to make 4 quarts. Submerge the pork and cover. Set aside to brine for 30 minutes. Once brined, remove and pat dry.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the pork on all sides with pepper. (And salt if you didn’t first brine it.) Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil, turning to coat the skillet, and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the pork and sear on all sides until browned and lightly crusted, about 5 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. In the same skillet add the onion and cook until clear and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the apples, vinegar, and chicken stock. Stir to combine.

Return the tenderloin to the skillet, nestling it into the apples and onions. Scatter the thyme sprigs over and transfer to the oven. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 145°F when measured with an instant read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board, preferably with a moat. Cover with foil and let rest to let the juices redistribute, about 3 minutes. Place the sliced on a warmed serving plate. Using a slotted spoon, surround the pork with the apples and onions. Taste and adjust the jus for seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle the remaining jus into a warmed gravy boat. Garnish the pork with freshly picked thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

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photographs by Virginia Willis

Copyright © 2016 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.