How long to cook a pork tenderloin?

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How long to cook a pork tenderloin?
Pork tenderloins can be cooked whole, or they can be butterflied or cut and run through a skewer. (pork tenderloin image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)

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Pork Tenderloin Basics

Pork tenderloin is a versatile meat and is very lean and tender. It is typically sold as a long piece of meat and can be cooked whole or cut into smaller pieces for a wide range of recipes. Tenderloin is similar to chicken breast in that it has very little fat content and will quickly dry out if overcooked. Pork tenderloin is best cooked using a dry heat method such as pan or oven roasting, sautéing, broiling or grilling. Cooking time for pork tenderloin varies depending on the cut and desired method of cooking.

Pan and Oven Roasting

Cooking the tenderloin whole may be done on top of the stove by pan-frying or in the oven. If pan frying, dry the meat thoroughly and place it in an oiled skillet heated on high. Brown the tenderloin on all sides, then turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking the tenderloin for another 10 to 15 minutes. Place the tenderloin on a plate or cutting board, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes. To oven roast a pork tenderloin, preheat the oven to 204 degrees C. Brown the tenderloin on all sides in an oiled, ovenproof frying pan and then finish cooking it in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Whether pan frying or oven roasting, the pork should reach an internal temperature of 65.5 to 68.3 degrees C. The internal temperature will also rise another -15.0 to -12.2 degrees C while it rests.

Pan Frying

For smaller cuts of pork tenderloin like medallions and scaloppine, the cooking time is much shorter. For medallions, cut the pork tenderloin into 1-inch-thick slices and pan fry on high heat for no more than 2 minutes on each side. The pork will be browned on the outside and just slightly pink on the inside. For a scaloppine, cut the pork into 1/2-inch slices and pound to roughly a 1/4-inch thickness. Again in an oiled frying pan on high heat, cook the scaloppine slices for no more than a minute on each side. Pork tenderloin cooked as medallions or scaloppine pairs nicely with either a brown pan sauce or a cream-based sauce.

Grilling

Pork tenderloin can also be grilled on a charcoal or gas grill but should either be cooked whole, in thick medallions or as kebab cubes. Smaller portions will result in the tenderloin drying out. If grilling a whole tenderloin, it will take 8 to 12 minutes, depending on what type of grill is used. Gas grills will require the slightly longer cooking time. For medallions and kebabs, 1 to 2 minutes should suffice. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 65.5 to 68.3 degrees C and should be covered and allowed to rest for 5 to 10 minutes after grilling. Grilled pork tenderloin will pair well with either a dry rub, marinade or sauce.

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