Pork Tenderloin twins that are.
I had to do something with these two beautiful babies, and so my creative spirit was sparked.
Besides, I was hungry.
I hadn’t eaten all day.
Isn’t it true that there’s nothing to motivate you in the kitchen, like an empty stomach?
So at about noon, I headed for the kitchen.
Yes, it was my intention to turn those tenderloins into a work of art.
[I only wish I could go about my housework with as much joy and vigor as I do when I am cooking or baking.]
So I was feeling maybe just a little (maybe a lot) guilty about the recipe plan I had made for these tenderloins. The plan was supposed to be a Paleo-friendly option. Well, these twin slabs of meat were about to become as far from Paleo-friendly as it can get.
I just couldn’t seem to wrench my arm behind my back enough to make me say, Uncle!
Instead, my mind wandered to a silky, smooth, buttery sherry, caramelized onion, and mushroom reduction sauce. I pictured it delicately drizzled over what would soon be succulent, roasted pork tenderloin.
But what to pair it with?
It would be a shame to diminish the limelight from the star of the show.
So I sided with simplicity.
The pairings would be creamy, garlic mashed potatoes accompanied by fresh green beans, delicately pan-sautéed with bacon bits and onion…all mingled with that much-anticipated velvety sauce. YUM!
And so, without further adieu, I give you the symphony of the pork tenderloin twins in pictures.
Trimming the excess fat and silver membrane from the tenderloin is a must. Take your time. The more adequately trimmed the meat is, the more deliciously tender it will be.
Next, I rubbed these beauties generously with Canola oil. The smoke point of Canola oil is much better for what I’ll be doing with these darlings later. I love Olive Oil, but it’s not suitable for this recipe.
I threw together a dry rub. I like to use fresh herbs whenever possible (some fresh thyme would have been nice), but there weren’t any to be had, so I had to make do with what was in the cupboard. I don’t think anyone would have noticed the difference anyway. I never measure anything…I just started tossing in a little of this and a little of that in the bowl–garlic powder, coarse (emphasis on the course) sea salt, Montreal Steak seasoning, garlic salt, granulated onion, and a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper. Feel free to come up with your own dry rub concoction…this is just one of my slap-and-dash favorites.
I massaged the rub into all sides of the meat. Then I cut up one lime and squeezed one-half of the lime on each tenderloin–lightly rubbing it in. You can’t imagine the difference this one little step makes (the lime, that is) in tenderizing the meat and in its flavor. Muy Bueno!
Wrap the tenderloins tightly in plastic wrap and return them to the fridge to marinate for two or three hours or until you are ready to roast them. If you are short on time, just marinate them as long as you can. Trust me, this is another step that makes a ginormous difference when you take that first luscious bite.
Okay, two or three hours have passed, and now it’s time for the symphony’s crescendo.
Remove the tenderloins from the fridge.
Crank up the old oven to 425 degrees… Make sure the oven is ready to go before you get on with the next step.
While you are waiting for the oven to preheat, it’s time to chop up an onion or two and sauté the mushrooms (I use a cast-iron frying pan for the mushrooms).
Most people don’t have the patience, but I like my mushrooms nicely browned. They are also so much prettier and tastier at the final presentation. The only way to do this is by sautéing them (about 6 oz. or so) a few at a time in butter, yes, butter. Once they are browned on both sides, set them aside and reserve them for later. Aren’t they beautiful?
With the oven preheated, it’s time to make magic. Ready?
Locate your favorite cast-iron frying pan (you should already have the pan ready from the mushroom prep) and slosh in about three tablespoons or so of Canola oil (I told you I never measure–if it looks right, that’s the measurement). Don’t overdo the oil.
If you don’t have a good, seasoned cast iron frying pan, then I suggest you find one (preferably before you try to cobble this recipe together)–borrow one, steal one (okay, that may be a bit extreme) but do whatever you have to do to track one down. There is no substitute for cast iron when preparing this dish–not if you want the same results. Let that oil and pan get hot, really hot. Then toss those twin gems into the pan and sear those babies on all sides until golden brown.
This is incredibly lean meat, so the searing step is critically important–searing seals in all the wonderful juices of the meat, and believe it or not, the coarse sea salt used in the dry rub helps give the tenderloin a nice, crunchy crust. My mouth is watering right now, just looking at the photo.
Once seared on all sides, remove them from the pan and place the tenderloins on a plate (just long enough to sauté the chopped onion). Throw some butter into the pan (yes, more butter–I warned you this wasn’t Paleo-friendly) that you just seared the tenderloins in–turn down the heat just a bit and throw in your onion. Make sure you scrape the pan for all those delicious bits left in the pan from the searing of the meat–the flavors in that cast iron pan are exploding right about now–the onion and the butter with the bits of the dry rub and the drippings from the pork are melding. Cook until slightly translucent, as the onions will accompany the tenderloins in the oven, so you don’t want the onion overdone beforehand.
Ready, set, go.
Once your onions are ready…throw the tenderloins into the pan with the onions.
Make sure your oven is fully preheated to 425 degrees, and with a couple of hot pads, lift the pan and slide that soon-to-be delectable presentation onto the center rack of the oven.
Close the door.
Set the timer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Don’t open the oven–don’t even think about it.
Tip: Do NOT let pork roast for longer than 15 minutes–ten minutes is ideal.
While I waited for the roast to finish up, I threw together the green beans. The mashed garlic potatoes were made in advance and were waiting to be served.
Can I just tell you how good these green beans were–WOW!
Beep, beep… 10 minutes went by quickly.
I was excited.
It was time to drag my masterpiece out of the oven.
I had been whizzing around the kitchen, getting everything set for the meal. Timing is everything for a perfectly presented meal, and I admit, I’m perhaps just a bit obsessive-compulsive about this. But is there any other way to be?
My husband kept peeking his head into the kitchen every so often–he knew he was in for gastroporn with this night’s meal.
When I removed the crackling pan from the oven, it was everything I had hoped it would be and more–the onions were caramelized to perfection, and the tenderloins appeared perfectly cooked.
I immediately removed the tenderloins to a warm plate to rest, covered them with foil, and quickly got on with making the crowning jewel–the sauce.
I tossed about 1/4 cup of butter (more butter is always better) into the onions and turned the heat to medium, maybe a bit higher. Then came the following: (once again, I didn’t measure) about 1 and 3/4 cups of chicken broth, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of dry cooking sherry.
Once the sauce came to a low boil, I immediately lowered the heat to a simmer, and all the while the twins were resting, the sauce bubbled, and I stirred and stirred some more, sprinkling in a bit more pepper, a few pretty crystals of pink Mediterranean sea salt (love this stuff) and waited.
The sauce was thickening as the liquids were reducing…it was transforming into exactly what I had envisioned it would be–rich and smooth. I added the final ingredient–the elegantly browned mushrooms and the sauce was complete.
It was time to give it a taste.
The sauce was ready to accept the fully rested pork tenderloins.
And here is the final cast-iron presentation–ready to dig into:
Yes, it was perfectly delicious.
“Premium! This is Premium,” my husband kept saying between forkfuls.
Is there any better feeling when a plan comes together?
Even if it wasn’t Paleo-friendly.