Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Corn Muffin Crust

One day, I will cook like Thomas Keller.  I will brine every piece of meat (to season it and keep it juicy! says Keller), I will temper it (letting the cold meat come to room temperature is apparently "critical" to even cooking), I will use a proper thermometer to ascertain doneness (instead of prematurely slicing it open to take a gander at the center), and I will let the meat rest after roasting (to allow the juices to redistribute while the meat-fibers firm up, which enables the meat to hold in more juice... TK really harps on this).  I will even finish my dish with a scattering of fancy gray salt, instead of Morton's.  Alas, the motivation to boil two quarts of water with a panoply of herbs, spices and salt, chill the giant salty tub overnight, and then reserve four hours to brine a little slip of tenderloin, continues to evade me.  Nor have I fretted about cooking the tip of the tenderloin slightly more than the center, nor stressed about the meat juices running amuck in the pan and sizzling skyward to leave my roast dismally dry.

Maybe Keller's cooking methods will produce a blissfully delicious, elevated pork experience (in fact, I have no doubt that they will), but I think my rogue roast, untempered, unrested, all juiced up and raring to go right from the oven, would give Keller's fancy-pants pork a run for its money!  It even looks just as fancy (see picture).  All you need for this tasty tenderloin (with its savory, crispy, corn-muffin crust... who doesn't like crust?) are a handful of ingredients and an hour.  Your pork will be juicy and fabulous, I promise!  The loin is among the leaner cuts of the pig, so in keeping with the wholesome theme I served this little piggy with plumped-cherry brown rice and a nectarine blue cheese salad (recipes included).  Start the rice first because it takes the longest!  These quantities serve ~4 hungry people.

Rosemary Corn Muffin Pork Ingredients
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin
salt and pepper to season the roast
olive oil for the pan (~1T)
2T butter
2 minced garlic cloves
1c. crumbled corn bread/muffin (homemade leftovers work best... store bought can be used in a pinch, but they will make a sweeter, stickier coating)
2t. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2T Dijon or hot sweet mustard

Preheat the oven to 425 and pat the pork with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.  Salt and pepper the pork.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil until hot and shimmering (but not smoking).  Add the pork to the hot oil and caramelize on all sides, then transfer to an oiled baking dish.  You might want to line the dish with tinfoil first for easier cleanup.  If the skillet has begun to smoke, let it cool a bit and then add the butter.  Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cook until golden and fragrant, ~30 seconds.  Remove the pan from heat and stir in the rosemary and corn muffin crumbs.  Season with additional salt and black pepper.  Spread the mustard over the pork, and pat on the crumb mixture.  Roast until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 140 to 150 degrees, ~30 minutes (or you can crudely slice open the pork to check for pinkness, as I did).  Check the pork at about 15 minutes, and if the crumbs are browning too quickly, tent the roast with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.  If you have the patience, allow the roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ingredients for Plumped-cherry brown rice with pine nuts
1c. short grain brown rice
2.5c. water
1T butter
1/3c. dried cherries
1/3 c. pine nuts
2 1-in. pieces of fresh ginger, peeled

In a medium saucepan combine the rice, water, butter, ginger hunks, and cherries.  Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat, and cover.  Allow the rice mixture to simmer undisturbed for 50 minutes.  In a small saucepan, toast the pine nuts until they release their oils and just begin to brown.  Remove from heat immediately and set aside until the rice is done.  While the rice cooks, prep the pork and the salad.  When you are ready to serve the rice, remove the hunks of ginger and toss in the pine nuts.

Nectarine Blue Cheese Salad Ingredients
2 ripe nectarines
1 head of your favorite lettuce
a handful of arugula
1/4 c. crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese
1/2 c. pecans

Good quality olive oil, ~1/2c.
Juice of one lemon
White balsamic vinegar, ~1/4c.
Either 2t. peach or apricot jam, or a splash of flavored white balsamic vinegar (I used peach white balsamic vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste

Tear the lettuce and arugula into salad-sized pieces, wash thoroughly, and dry.  Toast the pecans in a small saucepan until they release their oils and begin to brown.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Cut the nectarines into bite-sized chunks.  Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and adjust the oil/vinegar ratio to suit your tastes.  When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the greens and nectarines with the dressing.  Crumble the toasted pecans over the top, and sprinkle in the blue cheese.  Serve with the rice and the pork!


  1. Lily! We have been brining our pork loin Keller style for the past few months. It is TOTALLY worth it, and not super time consuming. Go easy on the salt though, we followed his recipe exactly and it was still way too salty for us.

  2. Great, thanks Sarah. We'll try it!