PBS-Pork-tenderloinThe 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

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 40 min(s)
  • Total Time: 50 min(s)
  • Servings: 4-6

An easy pork tenderloin recipe

Ingredients

    1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin

    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

    Olive oil

    ¼ cup water

    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

    ½ cup apricot preserves

Instructions

    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.

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4 Responses to “Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Sauce”

  1. melinda

    The recipe states: “With the thermometer intact, sear the roast on all sides until it reaches 145 degrees” What does “thermometer intact” mean? (I posted this question yesterday and it is no longer visible.)

    • Corwyn Shaughnessy

      It means don’t remove the thermometer. People are scared of undercooked pork as it is especially prone to pathogen vectors. The idea is if you hit 145 on a sear and let it rest while you’re whipping up the pan sauce it’s internal temperature will coast up to pretty close to 160. That is the minimum range that many people consider pork to actually be cooked at.

      It would be pretty awkward to sear a loin with a thermometer in it, in my opinion. I just go for visuals. You want the skin to be lightly golden brown and you want a dark brown fond to form on your pan. The fond is the “cooked bits crusted on the bottom of the pan” which is where the magic happens in a pan sauce.