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What is Pork Tenderloin?

By Chris Kohatsu
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pork tenderloin is a specific cut from a pig’s loin. The loin is located between the shoulder and the leg, above the side ribs and belly. It is the meat cut along the spine of the pig. Because these muscles are not primarily used by the pig for movement, the resulting meat is tender as well as lean. A typical tenderloin measures about a foot in length and between three to six inches in diameter.

This cut is normally cylindrical in shape, narrowing into a tip at one end. When sliced, the resulting cuts are called pork medallions. These medallions are typically prepared by sauté or a combination cooking method of sauté and steam. When roasted whole, trussing, the act of tying the tenderloin, is recommended to shape and cook evenly. Pork tenderloin also cooks well on a grill. As with most meats, cooking times will depend on your cooking method. Most authorities recommend that pork reach an internal cooking temperature between 155degrees F to 160 degrees F (68 C to 71 C) prior to serving. Careful watch of cooking methods is important with pork, as prolonged exposure to heat or flame will result in tough and dry meat.

Various preparation methods call for the use of spice rubs, marinades, or fresh herbs to enhance the pork tenderloin’s flavor. Some people prefer spicy rubs made from dried chilies, cumin, and cayenne. Others will enjoy a marinade of salty teriyaki sauce or sweet fruit glazes. Many people are fond of fresh herbs, like sage and rosemary, as they roast nicely with the tenderloin.

Although pork tenderloin and other pork products are widely enjoyed throughout the world, they are banned in certain cultures. Those who participate in a kashrut or kosher diet will not partake in pork, nor will those who follow Islam. Some Indian cultures ban the consumption of meat altogether. In the United States, certain school districts have also banned pork products, as seen in the Chicago area.

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Discussion Comments

By musicshaman — On Jan 10, 2011

Pork tenderloin is fantastic because it's really easy to make it simple or to make it look very complicated.

For instance, you can just fire up the crockpot, put your pork tenderloin in there with a little water and olive oil and forget about it until dinner.

On the other hand, you can easily make a stuffed pork tenderloin by simply slicing the tenderloin open, putting in your stuffing (I prefer vegetable based stuffings, but oftentimes sausage works well too) and then tying it together with kitchen twine to bake.

And who can say no to the delicious aroma of cooked pork tenderloin? Certainly not me!

By googlefanz — On Jan 09, 2011

Easiest, yet still impressive pork loin recipe you'll ever try: soy sauce and ginger marinated pork loin. This is my absolute standby for days when I really, really don't feel like cooking, yet for some reason still have to turn out something reasonably nice -- you know, when inlaws come over or whatever.

Its so easy. All you do is take your pork loin and defrost it (if it was frozen) then mix soy sauce and olive oil together in a 5 to 2 ratio, however much you want. Then take two minced garlic cloves, a pinch or two of brown sugar, and some ginger -- I use fresh sliced, but ground will do as well.

Mix is all together in a plastic bag to make a yummy pork tenderloin rub, then rub it into your pork really well. Seal the pork inside the bag, and let it sit in your fridge overnight.

The next day, just pop the tenderloin (minus the marinade, of course!) in the oven for about 30 minutes at about 425 degrees F, and you'll be good to go.

Seriously, it tastes amazing, and it's super easy. And impressive because you use ginger (at least it wows my family)!

Try it out sometime and let me know how it goes.

By CopperPipe — On Jan 07, 2011

Ooh, I love pork tenderloin. It's just such a versatile cut of meat; there are so many different things you can do with it.

I mean, setting aside all the fancy things like stuffed pork tenderloin or even the labor intensive grilled pork tenderloin, you have a huge variety of recipes even for cooking pork tenderloin in the crock pot.

This is definitely one of my staple foods for days when I don't want to cook, because they freeze well, yet retain a lot of their tenderness and flavor after you thaw it out.

And since most pork tenderloins are so big anyway, it's really easy to feed a lot of people or make enough to eat for a few days.

I would definitely recommend those who haven't tried the joys of pork tenderloin to pick one up next time they're in the grocery store -- it's really a great thing.

By mentirosa — On Mar 06, 2009

Pork tenderloin is a great piece of pork, but relatively mild in flavor. Adding some bacon will greatly improve the flavor.

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