So it appears that my meat thermometer is out of whack. I suppose I should just cough up the twenty bucks or so to get a fancy instant read, but I’m being cheap. Don’t worry, I’ll cave before I bake any chickens or make another large piece of meat. In any case, it made making this pork loin a bit more difficult than I would have liked.
Pork is tricky. It’s one of those meats that, if cooked beyond a certain point, can’t really be salvaged–or at least not in my books. While a rare steak can just become a medium to medium-well one, you’ve got a small margin of error for things like pork. So, when I realized my thermometer could not possibly be reading the right temp, I decided it was time to intervene and watch this baby like a hawk. I’ve also never made a pork loin before (bizarre, I know). Apparently, I’m less daunted by a giant turkey than I am by a 1 lb piece of meat. Go figure.
Anyway, the results were well worth my OCD meat-monitoring tendencies. This was flavorful and incredibly tender–even if it was just a teensy bit more cooked than what I was aiming for. Take that, meat thermometer!
So, with that, I’m taking recommendations for meat thermometers. And you should betake yourself to the store and get yourself some pork tenderloin.
Zesty Pork Loin
Adapted from Elly Says Opa! I know some people hesitate to marinate meat in acid–like lime juice–for a longer period of time. While it does technically start the denaturation process, it doesn’t do enough damage to make the meat tough. Just make this within a day or so, and you should be fine. This also wound up being an incredibly cheap meal. The pork loin cost just under $5, and, with some salad on the side, dinner easily came under $2/person. This would also taste delicious with a side of mashed potatoes.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon salt (this was a bit much for my taste…but I tend to use salt sparingly)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- A few hours before you intend to make dinner, prepare the tenderloin. First, remove the silver skin. That’s the gross, kinda thick membrane on one side of the pork. This will only toughen as it cooks, so discard it. Just slip your knife under one end and glide underneath. Easy peasy.
- In a small container, make the rub. Stir together your lime zest, salt, onion powder, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne and allspice.
- Coat the tenderloin in the olive oil, then in the lime juice.
- Rub the rub (ha!) into the meat, making sure to coat all sides and the ends. Throw into a plastic bag and refrigerate until ready to cook. You can marinate the meat for as little as half an hour or as long as one day.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat an oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloin–cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until a nice crust forms. Then turn and repeat.
- Throw the onions into the pan as the last side sears. I moved them around a bit to keep any fond from burning.
- Once you’ve seared the pork, place the pan in the oven and cook for 15 or so more minutes–until (your hopefully working) meat thermometer registers 145.
- Remove pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Tent with foil and rest for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, make a pan sauce: Over medium heat, add the red wine to your onions, scraping up the fond with a wooden spoon. Reduce the wine by half, then swirl in the butter. Remove from heat.
- Slice up the pork and serve with the pan sauce.