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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Aleppo Pepper Rub

(recipe, Kate McDonough)


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Introduction

I was late in falling in love with pork tenderloin. For the longest time I somehow missed recognizing how this value-priced cut of meat was so tasty and versatile. Plus the tenderloins, which typically weigh about a pound, are a good size for smaller households. The tenderloin is from the part of the animal below the ribs and, when butchered with the adjacent bone, sold as a loin pork chop. The meat is tender, lean, mild in flavor, and has about the same amount of fat as a boneless, skinless chicken breast. The fillet can be cut into thick medallions and sautéed or grilled, but cooked whole, it makes a perfect centerpiece for a weekly meal. Because this cut is small and low in fat, roasting can leave it overcooked, dry, and flavorless. But with just a little care and the help of an instant-read thermometer, a pork tenderloin can be a frequent go-to dinner choice. It doesn't need fussing to add flavor, but a quick spice rub will enhance the meat's taste. Aleppo pepper is a smoky pepper, mild but with a kick, that is often used in Middle Eastern cooking. Here I simply combine it with sea salt to add a little heat to the pork without overwhelming its delicate flavor. This recipe serves two. For more servings, just increase the number of tenderloins and cook them at the same time.

Ingredients

  1. 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
  2. 2 Tbsp. Aleppo pepper
  3. 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  4. 2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

Steps

  1. Remove the pork from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the Aleppo pepper and salt, and rub it over all the surfaces of the meat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degres. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
  4. Heat the oil in an ovenproof sauté pan or skillet (do not use nonstick) over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers but doesn't smoke. Place the seasoned tenderloin in the pan and brown on all sides. This will take about 6 minutes. Don't rush it.
  5. Put the pan in the hot oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the tenderloin's internal temperature by inserting the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Your target is an internal temperature of 140 degrees. This will result in medium-rare, or slightly pink, meat. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Cut into 1-inch-thick slices and serve. Thick slices of roasted pork tenderloin can be placed on top of a green salad or alongside your favorite vegetables. Thinly slice the meat for sandwiches.

Note

Tip: To accompany a simple pork tenderloin, sauté sliced apples in a little butter until they soften and brown a bit on the edges. Prepare them while the tenderloin is in the oven and serve them as a side dish along with roasted sweet potatoes or sautéed bitter greens.