You know what I think is sad?
When people continually overcook meat just to make sure that it is “done”.
Hey, I used to be a part of that camp, too. My mom would tell me horror stories about botulism. I witnessed first-hand how salmonella can wreak havoc on your digestive system…and I’ve been scared to death by reports of listeria/E.coli/trichinosis.
I get it. Cooking meat to a specific temperature ensures that no horrific bacteria survives.
However, up until a few months ago, I didn’t own a meat thermometer…so my go to for “doneness” was cooking the bejesus out of some meat.
“Juices run clear” is a pretty broad statement, so my chicken would always end up drier than the Mojave desert.
Sad. I know.
That’s why I cannot provoke people enough into buying a meat thermometer. That little kitchen gadget has completely saved my meat cooking skills. No more brick pork chops…goodbye shriveled up chicken breast. Hello perfectly cooked meat!
Since we’re on the topic of well-cooked meats, lemme tell you another thing: pink isn’t always bad. A lot of people think that since their pork chop is a little pink inside, it’s not done cooking. WRONG! Sometimes pink is perfectly okay. Color is an unreliable indicator of doneness. That’s why a meat thermometer is so important. It will let you know that your meat is cooked, and tender, and good to go.
I used my fancy-dancy meat thermometer on a beautiful pork tenderloin this weekend. I even told my coworkers about it, to which one exclaimed, “but isn’t pork tenderloin dry?!” Noooooo! It doesn’t have to be!
I cooked the tenderloin until the thickest part of the meat reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees, and then let it rest for 5 minutes under some tented foil. When I sliced into the tenderloin, it was wonderfully tender. A little pink in the middle, with some pinkish juices, but like I’ve said before—that is perfectly normal.
Pork tenderloins usually come in a two-pack and typically weigh about 1.5 pounds each. They can be a little on the pricey side, but it’s well worth it—they are so versatile! You can rub it with whatever spices you like and serve it alongside whatever side dish you like…it works with literally everything.
I made a simple green lentil and butternut squash ragu to go with my sliced pork, and then topped it off with a salty bacon & shallot jam. It was superb! Everything worked well together and the jam made the tenderloin even better than it already was.
I use the Dijon-thyme glaze for all of my pork tenderloins now. It’s so effortless and appeals to all flavor palates. Sprinkle a little breadcrumbs on top and in 20 minutes your dinner is done.
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Bacon Jam
- 3/4 cup dried green lentils
- 1 peeled, cubed butternut squash
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 TBS. Dijon mustard
- 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped and stems discarded
- 1.5 lb. pork tenderloin
- 2 TBS. panko breadcrumbs
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 TBS. parsley
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a large pot, combine lentils, butternut squash, bay leaves, and 2 cups of water. Stir everything together and cover and cook over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and lentils are cooked.
- In a small bowl, combine the mustard and thyme. Lay tenderloin on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Brush mustard mixture all over pork tenderloin (on both sides). Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the tenderloin.
- Put tenderloin in the oven and bake (roast) for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 140-150 degrees. Lay pork onto a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, fry bacon and shallots together over medium high heat until crisp, tender, and shallots are golden brown. Add red wine and stir.
- Let wine reduce by half—or until most of the wine is gone—then add the parsley. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.
- Layer a bowl or plate with lentil ragu, sliced pork tenderloin, and spread the bacon jam on top.
I say go for the splurge…you only live once! Buy a pork tenderloin AND a meat thermometer. You won’t regret it.