Pork tenderloin is a cut of meat taken from the central spine portion of the pig, along the top of the rib cage. Because the muscles in this part of the animal are utilised for maintaining posture rather than for locomotion (unlike those in, say, the leg), the meat of a tenderloin is considered one of the most tender parts of the animal. Its relative lack of fat and absence of bones makes it adaptable to a variety of cooking methods.
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You can grill either a whole tenderloin or thinly slice it, which makes it even quicker to cook. In both methods, you can add flavour by applying your favourite steak rub or your own combination of herbs to the outside before grilling. Herbs that particularly complement pork tenderloin include parsley, cilantro and basil.
Because of its lack of fat, pork tenderloin does not have to be cooked as long as most other cuts of meat. Putting it in an oven set at a high temperature for a short period of time should prevent the meat from drying out. Searing the meat on a hot skillet before roasting will help seal in the flavour and add a crispy texture to the outside. A classic combination is pork tenderloin roasted with apples, onions and cider (which helps keep the meat moist).
Braising refers to the technique of first searing the meat over a high heat in fat, then simmering it in liquid in the oven on low heat in a covered pot. You can experiment with combinations of stock, broth, wine and cider as the liquid to cook the tenderloin in; but the tenderness of the meat means that you need only simmer it for one to two hours (other, tougher cuts can require up to six hours of cooking), making it an ideal method for dinner parties.
Cut in thin strips or cubed, pork tenderloin lends itself to stir frying because, like the accompanying vegetables, it does not require very long to cook. Cooked in a skillet with, for example, peppers, peas, onions and ginger, tenderloin offers a quick substantial stir-fry particularly when served with noodles and a soy sauce dressing.
Similar to braising, but without the preparatory searing, stewing a pork tenderloin results in a succulent, melt-in-the-mouth texture to the meat. Simply place the meat in a cooking pot with some water or stock, some of your favourite herbs and cook it in the oven on very low heat for approximately six hours, depending on the size of the cut.
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