Pork tenderloin is a great cut of meat for quick weeknight suppers. It's relatively inexpensive, widely available, and quick to prepare. Here's one of our favorite ways to cook it: A quick paste of garlic and rosemary, a little salt and pepper, and high-heat roasting, and it's on the table in just about 30 minutes!
Sometimes we just buy tenderloin from the grocery store meat department, but we vastly prefer buying this from the butcher. Those grocery store tubes of pork tenderloin (usually two pieces combined in one 2-pound package) are often pumped full of saline and artificial flavorings and colorings. If you can, buy this cut of meat fresh from a local butcher or farmer.
Wherever you get it from, though, it should have a nice thin layer of fat on one side, and be fresh and pink. This cut is often relatively low-fat and can get dried out quickly. So we prefer to roast it fast under high heat, which sears the outside nicely and keeps the inside moist and still faintly pink.
Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin
serves 4 to 6 people
Two pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large stalks fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup beer or white wine
Heat the oven to 475°F. Take the pork tenderloins out of their packaging and pat dry. Sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in a 13x9 metal roasting or baking pan.
Strip the rosemary stalks of their leaves by pinching your thumb and forefinger and running them down the stem. Do the same to the thyme, and add the leaves of both herbs to the bowl of a small food processor, or a blender. Discard the stalks.
Add the garlic cloves and lemon zest, then, with the lid on and the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. It should turn into a loose paste, as the garlic gets chopped. If it sticks to the sides or doesn't get finely mashed, add more olive oil until you have a nice paste. Smear this paste all over the tenderloin, rubbing it into all sides of the pork.
Put the pork into the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Carefully flip both pieces of meat, using tongs, and then put back into the oven for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Check the temperature of the meat with an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest section; when it hits 155°F, take the pork out of the oven.
Place the pork on a cutting board and cover with foil to let it rest. (The internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise as it rests. Let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing.)
Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over medium heat on the stove. Pour in 1/2 cup beer or white wine (chicken stock or even water will do, if you have nothing else!) and bring to a simmer, scraping the pan constantly. Scrape up all the dark roasted bits and extra sauce from the bottom of the pan and let simmer until reduced into a brown, slightly thicker sauce.
Slice the pork into 1-inch-thick rounds and lay out on a platter or in a bowl. Drizzle with the pan sauce and serve immediately.
(Images: Faith Durand)