I used to not enjoy pork (outside of pork belly) very much. I always found the loins dry and a little "blah". But back when I was going to culinary school and becoming very serious about beginning a new food-related career, I decided that I should be comfortable cooking anything, even those cuts of meat that I was personally not crazy about. Thus began my foray into the world of pork loin. Not before long I began to develop a better understanding and big appreciation for the pigs leaner parts.
The key to succulent pork loin is in keeping it moist and juicy. One way to do so is to brine the pork for a day or two. This works very well, IF you plan and shop for your meals several days in advance. But, if you're like me, you're planning the majority of your meals day-of. So, it then becomes extremely important to not overcook the pork. We have been conditioned to be very afraid of underdone pork, and while we definitely don't want rare pork (underdone pork has an unpleasant texture and increases the risk of food born illness), we also definitely don't want very well done pork either (which results in piece of meat that has the texture of shoe leather). I cook the tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of just above 140 degrees; much above that and it starts drying out. Another key to keeping the pork tender is to let the loin rest before slicing (at least 10 minutes). The resting period allows the juices to redistribute and be absorbed by the meat, rather than losing them all on the cutting board.
I served this pork tenderloin along side the apple fennel salad from my previous post. It was a great pairing because 1. pork and apples are a natural flavor combination and 2. the richness of the pork with Gorgonzola cream is cut by the freshness and crispness of the raw apple fennel salad.
When shopping for your pork, look for meat from animals that have not been treated with with hormones or antibiotics. I look for Berkshire (or Heritage) pork which not only is much more flavorful and better marbled, but also came from pigs that were not treated with growth hormones, had room to move around, and were treated more humanely than commercially raised pigs.
One last note, it is quite important to use real cream is this dish (Mom, I'm talking to you). I rarely use cream, but in this particular dish, using cream (versus milk) results in a much silkier, richer sauce. Let's indulge, together.
Pork Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit
For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin (about 3/4 pound)
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
splash (about 2 tablespoons) dry white wine
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pat the tenderloin dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add pork and sear, turning occasionally, until seared on all sides (about 10 minutes). While the pork is searing, whisk together the mustard, olive oil and thyme. Transfer pork to a baking sheet and spread the mustard mixture over all sides of the pork. Transfer to preheated oven and bake until the inside of pork registers at between 140-150 degrees (about 15 to 20 minutes). Transfer pork to clean cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes.
While the pork is in the oven, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for another minute (to cook off the raw flour taste). Whisk in the white wine and stir until absorbed. Gradually add in the cream while whisking. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened (about 2 minutes). Add in the crumbled Gorgonzola and stir another few minutes until sauce is smooth and has reached your desired consistency.
Slice pork against the grain and transfer to serving plate. Ladle sauce over the pork and enjoy!