29 June 2010

Herb-coated Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Polenta

This recipe is the recipe where I learned how invaluable a meat thermometer is in the kitchen. It can make you look like a meat-roasting genius!  Especially with pork.  I know many people who are afraid of under-cooking pork for fear of trichinosis, and then cook the crap out of the pork chop/loin/whatever until it is the consistency of shoe leather and equally as tasty.  Cooking the meat that long is unnecessary.  You can kill all the uglies that could be in pork (which, by the way, have been reduced drastically with current farming practices) at 160F.  So, cooking to a temp of 155F and letting it rest for 10 minutes will increase the internal temp to the required 160, and you're good to go.  It will still be pink inside, but that doesn't mean that it's unsafe to eat, it will just be much more juicy and tender.

So talking about thermometers, the one that I've found to be the most useful is a probe thermometer that can be left in the oven and the temperature can be read on a display that can stay outside.  That way, you can keep an eye on the temperature much more easily. You also don't have to stick your head in the oven every 10 minutes to check on it (like I used to do with the one I had previously that was just a dial on a probe).  But please note, that probe stays HOT.  Just because you take the meat out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes, doesn't mean the probe cools off.  And I'm speaking from experience, I can't tell you how often I've burned my fingertips trying to take it out of the meat.  You've been warned ;).

Another few notes...I've tried the pork on the grill, and it turns out wonderfully, in fact, I think it's even better grilled, just be sure to keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn't over-cook.  Adding a handful or 2 of grated Parmesan cheese to the polenta works well, too.

Herb-coated Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Polenta
From Cooking Light magazine

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (1-lb) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Cooking spray

1/2 c finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c dry white wine (or vermouth)
4 c water, divided
1 c dry polenta (or yellow corn meal)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. To prepare pork, combine first 9 ingredients in a large zip top bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days (longer marinating time=more herb flavor).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F
  3. Remove pork from bag.  Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155F.  Remove from oven, cover and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. To prepare polenta, heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add onion and 2 garlic cloves, saute 2 minutes.  Add wine, cook 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.  Add 2 cups water, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.  Gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick an creamy, stirring frequently and gradually adding remaining 2 cups water.  Stir in butter, salt and pepper, add more to taste.  Serve with pork.

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