The only time I would ever eat pork chops when I was little was when my Aunt B would prepare them on her stove top, bone-in and fried to leather-like perfection. Since I didn’t know any better, I grew up thinking all variations of pork steaks were supposed to be tough like a cheap cut of beef. Later in life I typically avoided cooking pork unless I was using one of those pulled pork recipes where you throw everything in a slow cooker. It’s a great way to cook pork, but many years ago a friend of mine invited me over for dinner and changed the way I thought about “the other white meat.”
My friend Mary was a busy oncologist with two young kids and married to a rising chef in the Seattle restaurant scene. She worked during the day and he worked during the night. She would be the first to tell you she wasn’t a cook, but sometimes she would prepare pork tenderloin for dinner. The thinly sliced pieces of pork were surprisingly tender and flavorful – the complete opposite of the pork of my childhood. Having a top chef husband to teach you how to cook meat properly was a great perk of their marriage.
Like a curious student I asked how she prepared her pork. She taught me about searing meat at a high heat so it crusts, then finishing the cooking at a low temperature in the oven to keep the meat juicy and tender. Since then I have tried many variations of this method. My current favorite way to make pork tenderloin uses a reverse sear method.
The pork is seasoned generously with kosher salt and pepper and then roasted in the oven for 30 minutes at 275 degrees until my meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees. From the oven to the stove I finish the pork tenderloin off by searing the outside of it for a few minutes on each side. Once the thermometer reaches 145 degrees F, I transfer the pork to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. While the pork rests I add a few tablespoons of water and add it to my searing pan along with a tablespoon of cider vinegar and ½ cup of apricot preserves. Scraping and whisking any bits from the bottom of my pan, I use the sauce to drizzle the tenderloin to finish it off.
No longer do I fear preparing pork at home, and with this recipe neither will you.
Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Sauce
An easy pork tenderloin recipe
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup apricot preserves
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Generously season the pork with salt and pepper
Roast the pork for 30 minutes until your meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees
Just before pulling the roast out of the oven, heat a skillet on high heat
Generously drizzle the pan with olive oil
When the pan starts to smoke remove the tenderloin from the oven
With the thermometer intact, sear the roast on all sides until it reaches 145 degrees
Remove the tenderloin from the pan and transfer to a cutting board
To make the pan sauce, turn the heat off of the stove top. Add the water, cider vinegar, and preserves. Whisk the pan and try to incorporate any cooked bits crusted on the pan
Pour the sauce over the pork tenderloin after slicing it.